December 23, 2005

Azeri passenger plane crashes with 23 on board

By Lada Yevgrashina

BAKU (Reuters) - An Azeri passenger plane with 23 people on
board crashed late on Friday soon after take off from the
Caucasus state's capital Baku, the national airline said.

It was not immediately clear if anyone had survived.

The Antonov An-140 aircraft, bound for the Kazakh city of
Aktau, disappeared from radar screens soon after take-off from
Baku, a spokesman for national flagship carrier AZAL said.

"The plane crashed somewhere along the coastal line of the
Caspian Sea. A search is under way," he added. "According to
preliminary information the plane had 18 passengers and five
crew on board."

Azerbaijan, situated on the Caspian Sea, is a former Soviet
republic with a thriving oil and gas industry.

Russia's RIA news agency said the plane had crashed near
the village of Kyurdakhany some 15 km (10 miles) from Baku. The
AZAL spokesman denied this.

There have been no reports on any possible cause of the

The An-140 is a relatively new short-range passenger plane
designed in the 1990s. The aircraft, which has two propeller
engines and can carry up to 52 passengers, is produced jointly
by Ukraine and Russia.