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Kkilling 68 out of the 90 passengers and crew

Passenger plane bound to Iran crashes in Kyrgyz capital

wire services  Aug 25, 2008

A passenger plane has crashed shortly after take-off from Kyrgyzstan's capital, Bishkek, killing 68 out of the 90 passengers and crew.

There were many foreigners on board, including Iranians and Canadians.

The Itek Air Boeing 737 took off bound for Iran, but turned round some 10 minutes later.

An airport spokeswoman said the crew had reported a technical problem, and the plane crashed not far from the airport and caught fire.

Ambulances and fire-fighting equipment from the nearby US air at Manas, 30km (20 miles) from Bishkek, were despatched to help with the rescue effort.

Two crew members were among the survivors.

52 Iranians
24 Kyrgyz
Three Kazakhs
Two Canadians
One Chinese
One Turk
Seven crew

There were initially reports that the plane was flying to Mashhad in northeastern Iran, but later officials said it had been due to fly to the capital, Tehran.

Prime Minister Igor Chudinov said 51 of the passengers were foreigners, including people from China, Turkey, Iran and Canada.

There were also 17 members of a school sport team from Bishkek on board, seven of whom survived.

The prime minister said that the crew had reported a sudden depressurization on board the plane.

"The plane took off and then it lost pressure," said Mr Chudinov.

It crashed at 2040 (1440GMT).

Airport employees said the fuselage of the plane was destroyed by flames and only the tail remained intact.

Yelena Bayalinova, spokeswoman for the Kyrgyz health ministry, told the Interfax news agency that many victims of the crash had suffered burns, and that some were in critical condition.

The plane belonged to Itek Air, a Kyrgyz company, but there were reports that it was being operated by Iran Aseman Airlines.

However, Iranian and Kyrgyz official said the plane was both owned and operated by Itek Air.

Itek Air is on a list of airlines banned from EU airspace because of fears over safety standards.

Prime Minister Chudinov said the plane had been made in 1979 and was "in good condition and had an extended warranty".

Passenger plane bound to Iran crashes in Kyrgyz capital

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