International

16 killed as Russian plane carrying skydiver crashes

By AFP

MOSCOW: A plane carrying parachutists crashed in central Russia on Sunday, killing 16 people. The Ministry of Emergency gave this information.

The ministry said on its Telegram channel that the L-410 plane carrying 22 people crashed during a flight over the Republic of Tatarstan at 9:23 a.m. (0623 GMT) local time.

“Six people were rescued, 16 were evacuated without any symptoms,” the ministry said.

The ministry had earlier said that 15 people had died and 23 people were on board the plane.

Images published by the ministry showed the plane broken in half with a badly damaged nose.

The local health ministry told Interfax news agency that the remaining six people were being hospitalized.

Tatarstan premier Rustam Minnikhanov was traveling to the crash site, a statement on his website said.

According to Interfax, the plane belonged to the Voluntary Society for Aiding Russia’s Army, Aviation and Navy, which describes itself as a sports and defense organization.

The head of the organization’s regional branch said the parachuting club that organized the flight was not to blame.

“We are the best, we are among the top five clubs,” Ravil Nurmehmetov told TASS news agency, adding that the club had hosted the European and World Championships.

“Astronauts train here,” he said.

According to its website, the Czech-built L-410 light aircraft was one of two aircraft used by the club.

Earlier this year, two L-410 planes had fatal crashes in Russia, killing a total of eight people.

Russia was notorious for plane crashes but has improved air traffic safety in recent years with major airlines switching from Soviet aircraft to modern jets.

But poor aircraft maintenance and lax safety standards still lead to frequent accidents in remote areas involving light aircraft, sometimes with large-scale tragedies.

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