Spanish peacekeepers killed in plane crash

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The Independent Online

A Ukrainian airplane crashed and exploded into flames while trying to refuel in Turkey, killing all 74 people aboard, mostly Spanish peacekeepers returning home after serving in Afghanistan.

A Ukrainian airplane crashed and exploded into flames while trying to refuel in Turkey, killing all 74 people aboard, mostly Spanish peacekeepers returning home after serving in Afghanistan.

The plane was flying from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to Zaragoza, Spain, with a refueling stop in the Black Sea port of Trabzon.

The Russian-made YAK-42, which belonged to the Ukrainian company Sredizemnomorske, hit a mountain slope near the town of Macka, 30 miles south of Trabzon.

The plane, which apparently carried ammunition belonging to the Spanish soldiers, burst into flames and exploded into pieces upon impact. Turkish soldiers saw unexploded hand grenades among the wreckage and evacuated the rescue site, fearing further explosions.

The airplane carried 62 passengers - all Spanish peacekeeping forces - and 12 crew members. The dead on the plane included 41 army soldiers and 21 air force personnel.

The plane apparently went down on its third attempt to land in thick fog at Trabzon airport. The pilot reported not being able to see the runway in the first two attempts, and the plane disappeared from radar screens at 4.45 a.m local time.

Turkish military officials at the scene retrieved more than 25 charred bodies from the wreckage and said there were no survivors.

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