At least 15 people were killed early on Friday when a plane with 93 passengers and five crew members aboard crashed after takeoff near Kazakhstan’s biggest city, Almaty, local authorities said.
Flight Z2100, a Fokker 100 aircraft operated by Kazakhstan-based carrier Bek Air, was scheduled to fly from Almaty to Nur-Sultan, the country’s capital.
Airport authorities released a passenger list. At least 60 people survived the crash.
The officials said another 35 people, including eight children, are in serious or critical condition, and the death toll is expected to rise.
The Chinese consulate in Almaty said one Chinese citizen was on board and survived the crash without injury.
According to Almaty aviation authorities, the aircraft, which made its first flight 23 years ago, “lost altitude during takeoff and broke through a concrete fence”, before striking a two-story building near Almaty at approximately 7:22 am local time.
There was thick fog in the area at the time of the crash, according to Reuters.
A survivor told news website Tengrinews that 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.
Data from Flightradar24.com indicated the plane crashed 19 seconds after takeoff, approximately 5 kilometers from the airport. News videos and other images of the crash site in Almerek village, just beyond the end of the runway, showed the damaged plane broken into several parts, with its nose embedded in a partially collapsed house.
The village has been cordoned off by the authorities, Reuters reported.
Parts of the fuselage appeared to be relatively intact, raising hopes that many of those on board had survived the initial impact.
Emergency responders at the scene could be seen evacuating passengers and crew members from the wreckage. There were no reports of fire associated with the crash.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev sent his condolences to the friends and families of the victims. He said a special government commission had been established to investigate the crash and that “all those responsible will be severely punished in accordance with the law”.
The Kazakh Civil Aviation Committee published a statement online promising a thorough investigation of the cause of the crash. Authorities have not yet suggested what could have caused it.
As a precautionary measure, the authorities said all flights using the Fokker 100 aircraft would be temporarily suspended until the circumstances of the crash were clarified.
The aircraft is a medium-size twin-turbofan jet often used for short-haul flights. The company that built the plane went bankrupt in 1996.