A passenger jet has crashed during take-off in southern Algeria, killing all but one of the 103 people on board. Airline officials say the plane had mechanical problems.

The plane, an Air Algerie Boeing 737-200, took off Thursday afternoon from an airport in Tamanrasset in southern Algeria bound for the capital, Algiers.

Witnesses say the plane veered off the runway and crashed.

An Air Algerie official is reported as saying the crash appears to have been caused by a mechanical problem and that terrorism was not suspected.

A witness told the French news service (AFP) one of the plane's engines appeared to catch fire as the aircraft accelerated down the runway.

The one person reported to have survived the crash was rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition.

A technical committee has been set up to investigate the crash. It is Algeria's deadliest airline disaster since the country won its independence from France 41 years ago.

Algeria's ministers of interior and transportation are en route to Tamanrasset, located some 1,600 kilometers south of the Algerian capital.

The region is known for its archaeological sites and prehistoric paintings and engravings.