Bodies of the 257 people killed in Algeria's worst aviation disaster were being identified at a military hospital on Thursday and returned to families for burial, while officials provided no new information about the crash.

Army Chief of Staff, General Ahmed Gaid Salah, gave instructions to speed up the identification process at the Ain Naadja military hospital in Algiers, the Algerian Defense Ministry said.

Many of the victims were badly burned in Wednesday's crash of a military transport plane after it took off and plunged into a field, a Defense Ministry statement said.

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Salah assisted at prayers, as the remains of the soldiers, relatives and refugees killed were prepared for journeys to homes around the vast country.

The general has ordered an investigation of the crash, but officials have not said if flight data recorders have been recovered from the wreckage, how many people were on the plane or whether anyone survived.

Sofiane Tehar, a young firefighter at the scene of Wednesday's disaster, told The Associated Press that it was unlikely anyone would have survived, "given the state of the plane, completely burned."

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