Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Five dead in Ukraine plane crash

Emergency vehicles arrive at Donetsk airport after a plane crashed (AP)

A passenger plane carrying football fans has skidded past a landing strip and overturned in the Ukraine, killing five people.

The small, Soviet-designed AN-24 plane was carrying 44 passengers and crew from the Black Sea port of Odessa when it crash-landed in the eastern city of Donetsk shortly after 6pm local time yesterday, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

The plane was operated by the small Southern Airlines company, which mostly runs domestic flights from Odessa. The cause of the accident was not immediately clear and senior officials were dispatched to Donetsk to investigate.

One of the survivors, a man in his 20s who identified himself by his first name Oleg, said in a video interview posted on the Ukrainian news site Korrespondent that the plane "split open" and caught fire during landing.

Many of the passengers escaped the burning plane through the hole that emerged as a result. Oleg said that according to preliminary information, the crash could have been caused by engine failure during landing.

"It was horrible," he said. "This situation needs to be dealt with."

Oleg, as well as regional officials, said the plane was filled mostly with football fans heading for Wednesday night's Champions League match between Ukraine's Shakhtar and Borussia Dortmund. The match opened with a minute of silence in memory of the dead.

In recent years, former Soviet republics have had some of the world's worst air traffic safety records. Experts blame that on the age of the aircraft, weak government controls, poor pilot training and a cost-cutting mentality.

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