Seventy five feared dead in Russian plane crash

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All 75 people on board a Russian Defence Ministry plane which crashed into a mountain are believed dead.

All 75 people on board a Russian Defence Ministry plane which crashed into a mountain are believed dead.

The plane went down near the town of Batumi, capital of Georgia's Adzharia region, while trying to land in bad weather.

It veered off course on approach in "difficult weather conditions," said Alexander Silagadze, head of the civil aviation agency Sakaeronavigatsiya.

The plane, an Il-18 transport with 64 passengers and a crew of 11, crashed about 15 miles east of the town, said Marina Ryklina, a spokeswoman for Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry.

Although Russia and Georgia became independent countries when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Russian still maintains troops in Georgia.

The plane was flying from Chkalovskoye, a town outside Moscow where a military airfield is located, to Batumi, also home to a Russian military base.

The Russian emergencies ministry was sending a plane carrying a search and rescue team.

Russia is in the process of removing its troops and equipment from two bases in Georgia, and is negotiating withdrawal from two more. Equipment from the bases is being shipped through Batumi.

The Il-18 is a Russian-made, four-engine turboprop. In 1997, an Il-18 owned by a private Russian carrier crashed on a charter flight while trying to take off in Johannesburg, South Africa. All five people survived and the reason for the crash was not determined.

The model first flew in 1957, and production ceased in 1970. The plane was used as a passenger plane by the Soviet national airline Aeroflot and seats up to 100 passengers. Aeroflot still used the plane for cargo flights.

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