Azerbaijani plane crashes in Afghanistan

Wed 06 Jul 2011 03:26 GMT | 07:26 Local Time

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The Taliban are claiming responsibility for the crash of an Azerbaijani cargo plane in Afghanistan, which had nine people on board

Afghanistan's air traffic control lost contact with the Il-76 plane as it was preparing to land at 02.10 Baku time on Wednesday (21.10 GMT on 5 July) not far from Bagram airport and it disappeared from the radar screens, Azerbaijan's State Civil Aviation Administration said in a statement.

An air traffic controller in Kabul reported seeing a flash in the sky at a height of 4 km and distance of 25 km.

The administration said the plane had nine crew on board, while sources in Azerbaijani Airlines (AZAL) earlier said the crew was made up of two Azerbaijani citizens and six Uzbek citizens.

The governor of Siagerd in Afghanistan's Parwan Province, Abdulhalim Mujaddidi, told Trend news agency that all the crew had died.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed to Afghan journalists that the plane had been shot down by the Taliban, Iran's Fars news agency reported.

Local governor Abdulhalim Mujaddidi denied the Taliban were responsible for the crash.

British Maj. Tim James, a spokesman for the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, told RIA-Novosti that no Taliban activity had been registered in the area recently.

He said the plane had plunged into a mountainside at about 12,500 feet (3,800 metres).

He also noted that the crashed aircraft had been chartered to work with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Gun.Az reports with reference to Trend.

Azerbaijan's Civil Aviation Administration said the crew had reported no problems before communications were lost. A collision with an unknown object could, therefore, have been the cause of the crash.

The captain of the aircraft was Sergey Viktorovich Kuzmin, born in 1969 and an experienced pilot with 4,576 flying hours under his belt, Azerbaijan's Civil Aviation Administration said.

The plane, flying from Baku to Bagram, was carrying 18 tonnes of cargo and took off from Baku at 21.26 local time (16.26 GMT) on 5 July.

The Russian-built Ilyushin-76 4K-AZ 55 had a payload of 40 tonnes and was built in 2005. It had its last full technical inspection in February 2011 and a regular technical inspection in June.

The plane belonged to Silk Way Holding, a company closely linked to Azerbaijan Airlines.

An Azerbaijani commission has been created to investigate the incident and will leave for Afghanistan soon.




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