Around 70 people died when a Kyrgyz airliner crashed in flames shortly after take-off on Sunday from Kyrgyzstan’s main airport near Bishkek. Among the dead were members of a local teenage basketball team. The plane belonging to Itek-Air was chartered by an Iranian company and was bound for Tehran.
In Kyrgyzstan, presidential adviser Tokhon Mamitov commented on the number of possible survivors:
“We think approximately 15 or 17 people have been saved and we need to confirm it. Unfortunately it seems the rest of the people on board died.”
A spokesman for Manas airport, 30 kilometres from Bishkek, said the Boeing 737 took off and quickly reported a technical problem. It then tried to return to the airport. The plane came down close to the airport runway and burst into flames after it reportedly suffered from a sudden loss of pressure.
Officials say 83 passengers and seven crew were
on board. The Transport Ministry in the Central Asian state said the aircraft was built in 1979 and had been inspected only two months ago.
The incident comes less than a week after a McDonnell Douglas plane with 166 passengers and six crew crashed on takeoff at Madrid’s Barajas airport killing 154 people on board.