Kazakh rescuers find flight recorder after military plane crash

Wed Dec 26, 2012 8:13am EST
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By Dmitry Solovyov

ALMATY (Reuters) - Rescue teams have recovered a flight recorder from a plane which crashed in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, killing all 27 people on board in the country's worst military air disaster since independence.

The twin-engine Antonov An-72 transport jet disappeared from radar screens at about 1900 local time (1300 GMT) as it was circling in a raging blizzard, trying to land at the city of Shymkent, the capital of the South Kazakhstan Region.

It crashed into an open-cast mine, littering the area with mangled, burning fragments.

The plane belonged to the border troops of Kazakhstan's KNB security service. Those killed included the commander of the country's border guards, Turganbek Stambekov, and his wife.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev ordered a national day of mourning on Thursday, his press service said.

"Most probably, the black box (flight recorder) will give us a clue about what caused this catastrophe," KNB chief Nurtai Abykayev told a news conference in Shymkent, according to local media.

"Special commissions that are investigating will look into various possible causes. These can include weather conditions, the human factor or the plane's technical condition. Anything."

The Soviet-designed plane, which can take off from rough gravel runways just 800 meters long, is widely considered to be a reliable and sturdy workhorse of the air forces of several former Soviet states.   Continued...

Still image from video shows the remains of an Antonov An-72 military transport plane after it crashed near Shymkent December 26, 2012. REUTERS/TV7.kz/Handout