Kazakhstan: Bek Air flight with 100 onboard crashes near Almaty airport

NEWS 27.12.201908:31
Emergency Committee of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan/Handout via REUTERS

At least 14 people have died after a plane carrying 95 passengers and five crew members crashed shortly after takeoff near the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan on Friday morning.

The plane “lost altitude after takeoff and broke through a concrete fence,” before colliding with a two-story building at approximately 7:22 a.m., local time, according to Almaty aviation authorities.
Flight Z2100, a Fokker 100 aircraft operated by Kazakhstan-based carrier Bek Air, was scheduled to fly from Almaty, the country's largest city, to the capital Nur-Sultan.
Kazakh state media, citing the Internal Affairs Ministry, said at least 14 people had been killed in the crash, and nine people, including six children, had been injured and taken to nearby hospitals for treatment.

Data provided by Flightradar24 indicated the plane crashed 19 seconds after takeoff, approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) from the airport. Videos and images of the crash site near Kyzyl Tu village show the damaged plane broken into several parts, with the nose embedded in a small partially-collapsed house.

Parts of the fuselage appeared to be relatively intact, however, raising hope that many of those on board had survived the initial impact.
Rescue operations began immediately and 40 ambulance crews were deployed to provide medical care, the Kazakhstan Aviation Committee said in a statement. Emergency responders at the scene could be seen evacuating passengers and crew members from the wreckage. There were no reports of fire following the crash.

The cause and circumstances of the incident would be placed under investigation, the country's Civil Aviation Committee said in a statement published online. As a precautionary measure, authorities said that all flights using the Fokker 100 aircraft would be temporarily suspended until the circumstances of the crash were made clear. The Fokker 100 is a medium-sized twin-turbofan jet often used for short-haul flights.

The Fokker 100 aircraft involved in the crash was made went into operation in 1996, according to the Kazakhstan Aviation Committee.
“The (plane) was 23 years old, but still a rugged aeroplane and has a very good service record,” Geoffrey Thomas, editor in chief of aviation website airlineratings.com, told CNN.

“Fokker built very good aeroplanes (with) a high degree of focus on structural integrity, which is why this aeroplane has not been broken up into more pieces,” Thomas said.

“The absence of a fire makes an enormous difference, and that is a major factor in the survivability of this, coupled with the strength of the fuselage. I am surprised that a fire did not break out. That is probably because the fuel tanks and the wings remain intact and didn't rupture. Again, testament to the structure of the aircraft.”

Temperatures dipped to minus 7 degrees Celsius (20 Fahrenheit) at Almaty airport on Friday, according to aviation website Flightstats.com.

David Soucie, a former Federal Aviation Administration safety inspector based in Hawaii, told CNN he suspected the freezing conditions may have been a factor in the crash.

“The aeroplane is pretty much a tank. That aeroplane has been around for a long time if properly maintained, that aircraft could continue to fly for many more years yet,” he said.

“It's too early to state anything about maintenance or anything else on the aircraft, I don't want to jump ahead of the game here. But at this point, my suspect would be weather being the biggest factor.”

In a tweet, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev expressed condolences to the families of the victims and warned that those responsible for the crash would face “severe punishment in accordance with the law.”