At least 37 killed as Turkish cargo plane crashes into village in Kyrgyzstan

Wreckage of Boeing 707 found in village near Manas airport after jet runs into thick fog en route from Istanbul to Hong Kong

Peter Walker
Monday 16 January 2017 07:36
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At least 37 killed as plane crashes in Kyrgyzstan

A Turkish cargo plane has crashed while trying to land in dense fog in Kyrgyzstan, destroying half a village and killing 37 people onboard and on the ground.

The ACT Airlines Boeing 747 came down just outside Manas airport, where it was scheduled for a stopover between Hong Kong and Istanbul.

Five children were among 15 dead identified by Monday evening, all of them Kyrgyz citizens, the government said. An additional 15 people, including six children, were taken to hospital after being injured by the falling plane.

Footage and pictures from the scene showed the nose of the plane stuck inside the wreckage of a brick house, with other large chunks of debris scattered around.

An additional 15 people, including six children, were reportedly taken to hospital (Reuters)

“I woke up because of a bright red light outside,” said Baktygul Kurbatova, who was slightly injured, speaking to local television.

“I couldn’t understand what was happening. It turns out the ceiling and the walls were crashing on us.

“I was so scared but I managed to cover my son’s face with my hands so that debris would not fall on him.”.

The cargo jet was due to make a stopover at Manas en route between Hong Kong and Istanbul (Reuters)

The cause of the crash remains unclear, though the AFP news agency quoted a Kyrgyz official as saying it was the result of “pilot error”.

Kyrgyz emergency situations minister Kubatbek Boronov said it was foggy at Manas when the plane came down, but that weather conditions were not critical.

ACT Airlines said that the crash was not the result of "technical reasons or factors linked to the freight" on the plane. It did not specify the plane's cargo.

One of the plane's two flight recorders was recovered at the scene, according to the Kyrgyz prime minister's office.

Mr Boronov said the village where the plane crashed included more than a dozen homes next to the runway fence. Of the 43 houses in the village, 23 had been destroyed.

"Around seven o'clock in the morning I heard a strong swat (noise) and after that all the nearest houses were shaken," said local resident Andrei Andreyev.

"Of course, everyone got frightened and started to run out of the houses to the street. Nobody understood what was going on because there was a fog, the weather was not good."

ACT Airlines said in an emailed statement that its plane “crashed on landing at Bishkek at the end of the runway for an unknown reason”. It said the plane was being flown by its “four-person team” and more details would be released “when we get clear information”.

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev announced that Tuesday would be a national day of mourning and the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, called his Kyrgyz counterpart Erlan Abdildaev to offer his country’s condolences.

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