Kyrgyzstan plane crash: Turkish cargo jet hits homes

Kyrgyzstan plane crash: Turkish cargo jet hits homes

A Turkish cargo plane flying from Hong Kong has crashed in Kyrgyzstan, killing at least 37 people, most of them on the ground, officials say.

The Boeing 747 TC-MCL aircraft operated by ACT Airlines crashed as it landed amid fog at Manas airport, 25km (15 miles) north of the capital, Bishkek.

At least 15 buildings were destroyed in a village outside the airport, with a number of children among the dead.

Flight TK6491 was to have stopped at Manas en route to Istanbul in Turkey.

ACT is an Istanbul-based airline operating under the name MyCargo.

It said in a statement: "Our TC-MCL signed plane, flying on January 16 from Hong Kong to Bishkek, crashed on landing at Bishkek at the end of the runway for an unknown reason."

It said it was still awaiting "clear information".

'Many were sleeping'

The plane came down shortly after 07:30 local time (01:30 GMT) in the village of Dacha-Suu, a popular holiday home area near the airport.

Visibility was poor at the time because of freezing fog, but the cause of the crash has not yet been confirmed. The plane is believed to have been around 14 years old.

Images of the crash site show fire and smoke rising from the rubble of destroyed buildings.

One witness told AFP news agency: "The plane crashed into the houses. It killed entire families. There's nothing left of the houses. Many people were sleeping."

There were initial reports that one crew member had survived but later reports merely spoke of one missing pilot.

There were at least four people on board, officials said. A number of people have been taken to hospital with injuries.

A spokesman for the country's emergency services, Muhammed Svarov, told AFP the death toll "could be bigger" and that "major work is under way" to search for survivors.

Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov and local emergency services are at the scene.

President Almazbek Atambayev has cancelled a visit to China, Kyrgyz media reported.

Manas airport, the country's main international airport, has been closed.

In 2008, a passenger plane bound for Iran crashed shortly after take-off from Manas, killing 68 people.


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