December 27, 2019
Police and rescuers work on the site of a plane crash near Almaty International Airport, outside Almaty, Kazakhstan on Dec 27, 2019. PHOTO: EMERGENCY SITUATIONS MINISTRY OF THE REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN
ALMATY, Kazakhstan – A plane with 95 passengers and five crew members on board crashed near the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan on Friday (Dec 27), killing at least 15 people, authorities in the Central Asian nation said.
The Bek Air plane was heading for the capital, Nur-Sultan, and “lost altitude during takeoff and broke through a concrete fence” before hitting a two-storey building, Kazakhstan’s Civil Aviation Committee said in a statement.
At least 15 people were killed, and 66 have been hospitalised, some in grave condition, the Almaty mayor’s office said.
The plane was taking off before dawn. A Reuters reporter travelling to the airport said there was thick fog in the area.
The crash site in Almerek village – just beyond the end of the runway – has been cordoned off.
Photographs from the site published by media showed the plane torn into two parts next to a house half-demolished by the impact.
The committee and Almaty airport said emergency services were working at the site to get survivors out.
A survivor told News website Tengrinews she heard a “terrifying sound” before the plane started losing altitude.
“The plane was flying with a tilt. Everything was like in a movie: screaming, shouting, people crying,” she said.
Another survivor, businessman Aslan Nazaraliyev told the Vremya newspaper the plane started shaking while gaining altitude about two minutes after takeoff.
“At some point we started falling, not vertically, but at an angle. It seemed like control over the plane was lost,” he said.
The plane belonged to Kazakh carrier Bek Air, which operates a fleet of Fokker 100 jets.
Bek Air said in a statement it was awaiting official information from the investigators working at the crash site.
Authorities have not suggested any possible cause of the accident.
However, the aviation committee said it was suspending all flights of that type of aircraft pending an investigation.
The government said the crashed plane was produced in 1996 and its most recent flight certificate was issued in May 2019.
Kazakhstan’s interior ministry said it was investigating a possible breach of flight operations and safety rules.
“Those responsible will face tough punishment in accordance with the law,” Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev tweeted, expressing condolences to the victims and their families.