August 26, 2008

Kyrgyzstan Jet Crash Kills 68 — High School Athletes Among Dead

By Leila Saralayeva

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - A passenger jet carrying 90 people, including a Kyrgyz high school sports team, crashed shortly after takeoff Sunday near the Kyrgyz capital, killing 68, government officials said.

The Boeing 737 was headed to Iran when it crashed near Bishkek's Manas International Airport, said government spokeswoman Roza Daudova. Twenty-two people, including two crew members, survived the accident in the former Soviet republic west of China.

An airport official said the crew reported a technical problem about 10 minutes into the flight and that the plane was returning to the airport when it crashed. The official said she was not authorized to give her name.

Officials said the crash followed the sudden decompression of the jet, which came down in a field near a village.

Among the survivors were seven of the 17 members of the basketball team from a school in the capital, Bishkek, said Health Ministry spokeswoman Yelena Bayalinova. Presidential adviser Tokon Mamytov, however, later said that the athletes were volleyball, not basketball players.

Eighteen survivors were hospitalized, and four others were sent home with no serious injuries, according to Daudova.

Daudova said the people on board the plane included 24 Kyrgyz citizens, 52 Iranians, three Kazakhs, two Canadians, one citizen of Turkey and one Chinese.

Kyrgyz Interior Minister Moldomusa Kongatiyev said the plane went down 6 miles from the airport.

Maj. Damian Pickart, public affairs officer for the U.S. air base located at the Manas airport, said U.S. ambulances and firefighting equipment were dispatched to the crash site in response to a Kyrgyz request for help.

The U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan supports operations in nearby Afghanistan.

Several government officials said the plane belonged to Itek Air, a Kyrgyz company, but was operated by Iran Aseman Airlines. But Mamytov, the presidential adviser, said the plane was owned and operated by Itek Air.

Itek Air has been banned from operating in the airspace of the European Union because of failure to meet safety and aviation standards, according to a list published by the EU July 24.


Spanair toll hits 154

Passenger, 31, dies of wounds

MADRID - The number of people killed in the crash of a Spanair plane last week on takeoff from the main airport in Madrid rose to 154 during the weekend, when a patient suffering from severe burns died in a Spanish hospital.

The patient, Maria Luisa Estevez, a 31-year-old lawyer, had been in critical condition. She sustained burns to most of her body when the jetliner crashed and exploded in a fireball at Madrid's Barajas International Airport on Wednesday after taking off en route to the Canary Islands.

- Associated Press


Originally published by Leila Saralayeva Associated Press .

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