At least 32 killed after Turkish cargo plane crashes near Kyrgyzstan airport

Kyrgyzstan –  The Health Ministry in Kyrgyzstan says a cargo plane has crashed in a residential area just outside the Central Asian country's main airport, killing 32 people.

The ministry said Monday that the Turkish airline Boeing 747 crash-landed just outside the Manas airport, south of the capital Bishkek, killing at least 15 people in a residential area adjacent to the airport as well as 17 people onboard the plane.

Local emergency services are working on the scene.

Until 2014, the U.S. military operated a military installation at the Manas airport, using it primarily for its operations in Afghanistan.

Kyrgyzstan plane crash: Turkish cargo jet hits homes

A Turkish cargo plane flying from Hong Kong has crashed in Kyrgyzstan, killing at least 32 people, most of them on the ground, officials say.

The Boeing 747 TC-MCL aircraft crashed as it was landing amid fog at Manas airport, about 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.

The plane belonged to Turkish cargo carrier ACT, which flies 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.

Kyrgyzstan plane crash: Dozens killed when 747 hits village

At least 37 people were killed when a Turkish cargo plane crashed into a village in Kyrgyzstan, according to a statement from Kyrgyzstan's Ministry of Emergency Situations.

"The number of victims is increasing quickly," Elira Sharipova, a spokeswoman for Kyrgyzstan's Emergency Ministry told CNN. "The fire service, rescue services, ministry of internal affairs and the prime minister and emergencies minister are there."

Pictures of the immediate aftermath of the accident showed a portion of the Zhang-Zhang village badly damaged.
In one image, the plane's smoldering fuselage could be seen jutting out of the snow and the remnants of destroyed buildings.

The crash
The plane crashed at 7:18 a.m. local time about two kilometers (1.2 miles) away from the airport, according to Kyrgyzstan's state-run Kabar Agency.

Poor visibility was likely a factor, Kubatbek Boronov, the minister of Emergency Situations, told Kabar.

At least eight people -- including children -- were hospitalized, Kabar reported.

Fifteen homes were destroyed, according to Sharipova.

It's not clear how many people were on board, but the freighter had seating for 10 -- including two pilots, two observers and six additional passengers, according to a description on the airline's website.

The Boeing 747 was headed from Hong Kong to Kyrgyzstan's capital of Bishek, according to data from the tracking website FlightRadar24.

"Boeing extends its deepest condolences to the families of those who perished in the Turkish Airlines cargo Flight TK6491 accident near Manas Airport Kyrgyzstan, operated by ACT Airlines, as well as its wishes for the recovery of those injured," Boeing said in an emailed statement. "A Boeing technical team stands ready to provide assistance at the request and under the direction of government investigating authorities."

The cargo plane was operated by ACT airlines, an Istanbul-based freight airline, but was flown for Turkish Airlines -- the country's national carrier -- under their flight number.

Turkish Airlines expressed their condolences to ACT in a tweet.

ACT Airlines, which according to its website operates a fleet entirely made up of jumbo 747s, also operates as myCargo Airlines.

The plane that crashed was manufactured in 2003 and it first flew for Singapore Airlines Cargo, according to flight tracking from Flightradar24 and a detailed description of the aircraft on the company's website.

Airlines have cut back on their use of the Boeing 747 as full-fledged passenger aircraft in recent years, but the jumbo airliner makes up the backbone of the global freight fleet.

The 747's enormous size and unique rising nose cargo door have made it the aircraft of choice for many cargo airlines.

The aircraft model has been involved in several crashes over the past decade, including a pair of accidents in 2010 and 2011 attributed to on board fires involving the shipment of lithium ion batteries. Shifting cargo aboard a National Airlines 747 was blamed for a crash in 2012 when the jumbo airliner was taking off from Kabul, Afghanistan, killing all seven aboard.

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