At least 14 dead as plane crashes in Kazakhstan shortly after takeoff

Published December 27, 2019
Emergency and security personnel are seen at the site of the plane crash near Almaty, Kazakhstan, on December 27.  — Reuters
Emergency and security personnel are seen at the site of the plane crash near Almaty, Kazakhstan, on December 27. — Reuters
Emergency and security personnel are seen at the site of a plane crash near Almaty, Kazakhstan on December 27. — Reuters
Emergency and security personnel are seen at the site of a plane crash near Almaty, Kazakhstan on December 27. — Reuters

A Bek Air plane with 93 passengers and five crew members on board crashed near the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan on Friday shortly after taking off, killing at least 14 people, authorities in the Central Asian country said.

The Fokker 100 aircraft, heading for the capital, Nur-Sultan, on a pre-dawn flight, "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.

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.

At least 14 people were killed, and 22 have been hospitalised in grave condition, the Almaty mayor's office said.

A Reuters reporter travelling to the airport soon after the crash 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. A Reuters reporter saw the plane torn into two parts next to a house half-demolished by the impact.

Kazakh carrier Bek Air, which operates a fleet of Fokker 100 jets, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Authorities have not suggested any possible cause of the accident. The aviation committee said it was suspending all flights of that type of aircraft pending an investigation.

"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.

Pakistan offers condolences

President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi conveyed their sympathies and condolences over the tragedy, a statement by the Foreign Office said.

In separate messages to their respective counterparts, the president and the premier "have expressed solidarity with the government and people of Kazakhstan and shared the grief and pain of their Kazak brethren".

"They also prayed for the early recovery of those injured," read the statement.

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