Passenger plane crashes in Kazakhstan, killing at least 15 people

A passenger plane has crashed in Kazakhstan, killing at least 15 people.

The aircraft from Bek Air – a Kazakh airline – went down and crashed into a building shortly after take-off from Almaty airport early on Friday morning.

Survivors described walking from the wreckage into the dark and snow. At least 60 injured people, including children, were taken to hospitals.

The Fokker 100 aircraft was en route from Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, to the capital Nur-Sultan.

The cause of the crash is not known. A Reuters reporter close to the scene said there was heavy fog at the time.

What’s known about the crash?

Almaty’s airport said Bek Air flight Z92100 was carrying 93 passengers and five crew. A full list of the passengers published by Kazakhstan’s interior ministry included five children and three infants.

The airport said the plane lost height at 07:22 local time (01:22 GMT), before striking a concrete barrier and crashing into a two-storey building. There was no fire upon impact.

The airport later published the list of 60 survivors who were being treated at hospitals.

Maral Erman, one of the survivors, said the plane was shaking during take-off, Tengri News website reports. She said it first felt as if the plane had landed, but in fact “we hit something”.

“There wasn’t much chaos on board,” she said. “There were no screaming.” Ms Erman said the crew opened the exit for passengers to get out of the aircraft.

She added that she later saw the plane had “split in half”.

Kazakhstan’s interior ministry said six children were among the dead.

The Flightradar24 aviation information website said the flight departed at 01:21 GMT, and “the last signal was received in that same minute”.

Footage has emerged of rescuers working at the scene. In it, a woman can be heard calling for an ambulance and the cockpit of the plane is seen wedged into the side of the building.

Bek Air cancelled all its flights soon after the crash.

Almaty’s airport said it was operating normally and the flight schedule was unaffected.

Nur-Sultan – a city formerly known as Astana – was renamed after former-President Nursultan Nazarbayev shortly after he stood down in March.

What’s been the reaction?

A special commission will be set up to determine the cause of the crash.

Kazakhstan’s President Qasym-Jomart Toqayev expressed “deep condolences” to the victims’ relatives. He also said that “all those responsible will be severely punished in accordance with the law”.

What is known about Bek Air?

Bek Air was founded in 1999, initially targeting VIP flight operations, the company’s website says.

Nowadays, the company describes itself as Kazakhstan’s first low-cost airline. Its fleet is made up of seven Fokker-100 aircraft.

This is not the first serious plane crash in the city. On 29 January 2013, a passenger plane travelling from the northern town of Kokshetau came down near Almaty, killing 20 people.

A month earlier, 27 people died when a military plane carrying senior Kazakh security officials crashed in the south of the country.