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Passenger plane crash in Kazakhstan leaves at least 14 dead

Emergency and security personnel are seen at the site of a plane crash near Almaty, Kazakhstan, December 27, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

A Bek Air plane with 93 passengers and five crew members on board crashed near the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan on Friday shortly after taking off, killing at least 15 people, authorities in the Central Asian country said.

The Fokker 100 aircraft heading for the capital Nur-Sultan on a pre-dawn flight "lost altitude during takeoff and broke through a concrete fence", before hitting a two-storey building, Kazakhstan's Civil Aviation Committee said.

A survivor told news website Tengrinews she heard a "terrifying sound" before the plane started losing altitude. 

"The plane was flying with a tilt. Everything was like in a movie: screaming, shouting, people crying," she said.

A Reuters reporter travelling to the airport soon after the crash said there was thick fog in the area.

Authorities have not suggested any possible cause of the accident. The aviation committee said it was suspending all flights by carrier Bek Air and those of Fokker 100 aircraft pending an investigation.

Bek Air, which operates a fleet of Fokker 100 jets, said in a statement it was awaiting official information from the investigators working at the crash site.

Another survivor, businessman Aslan Nazaraliyev, told the Vremya newspaper the plane started shaking while gaining altitude about two minutes after takeoff.

"At some point we started falling, not vertically, but at an angle. It seemed like control over the plane was lost," he said.

At least 15 people were killed, and 66 were taken to hospital, including some in grave condition, municipal authorities said.

The crash site in Almerek village - just beyond the end of the runway - has been cordoned off.

A Reuters reporter saw the plane torn into two parts next to a house half-demolished by the impact. Other planes could be seen taking off from the airport.

"Those responsible will face tough punishment in accordance with the law," Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev tweeted, expressing condolences to the victims and their families.

The government said the crashed plane was produced in 1996 and its most recent flight certificate was issued in May 2019.

Kazakhstan's interior ministry said it was investigating a possible breach of flight operations and safety rules.

(Source: Reuters)

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