August 24, 2008

Bishkek Plane Might Have Made Emergency Landing

BISHKEK. Aug 24 (Interfax) - Kyrgyz Emergency Minister Kamchibek Tashiyev has confirmed the crash of the Bishkek airplane, which was bound for Iran.

"The plane crashed five kilometers away from the Manas International Airport. It was a Boeing 737 with 123 people on board," Tashiyev told Interfax.

"So far there is no exact information as to whether the plane was owned" by a local or an Iranian airline company, he said.

Nor does the minister have any information about a possible number of casualties at this stage.

All Kyrgyz emergency rescue teams and ambulance cars have been called in to the plane crash site. The Kyrgyz emergency minister and transport minister are due to arrive here shortly.

The plane is believed to have crashed not far from the Manas Airport near the village of Dzhangi-Dzher.

The Manas Airport is located 30 kilometers away from Bishkek.

Earlier, an airport source told Interfax that the Boeing 737 passenger jet crashed during a takeoff not far from the Bishkek Manas airport. According to early estimates, there are casualties.

The airplane is owned by Itek Air, a private airline company. It was due to fly from Bishkek to Mashhad (Iran), the source said.

A spokesperson for the anti-terrorist coalition air base confirmed the airport accident to Interfax and said that a team of rescue workers has been sent to the crash site.

Meanwhile, the Manas Airport has not confirmed the air crash to the Ekho Moskvy radio station.

"The airplane did not crash, it made an emergency landing. This plane is owned by a Tehran airline company," an airport spokesperson told the Ekho Moskvy radio.

There are "no casualties," the official said and refused to further comment on the incident.

"Currently, airline company officials and all bosses are near the plane, they are not giving us any information," the spokesperson said.

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