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16 Jan, 2009 11:29

Plane collision claims four in Dagestan

Four people are dead, five injured, and one missing as a result of the collision of two Russian military Il-76 aircraft in Dagestan capital’s airport, said local police reports on Friday.

Four people have died on the scene as two Il-76 planes belonging the military collided on January 15 at around 21:00 local time (18:00 GMT) on the runway in Uitash airport in Makhachkala of the southern Russian republic of Dagestan.

Officials say one of the planes was landing when it was hit by a strong gust of wind. Going off course, it hit the other aircraft, which was taxiing along the runway. The wing of an Il-76, number 76827, after the landing hit the cabin of another Il-76, number 76825, which was preparing to set off. The accident occurred in foggy conditions.

Among those who perished in the accident are Lieutenant Colonel Maxim Dubenkov; senior onboard engineer Major Knyazevich, senior onboard technician Major Tupitsin and senior onboard radio operator ensign Alekhin.

“As a result of the first plane’s wing colliding with the cabin of the other plane five people from the crew were wounded”, the official representative of internal troops of Russia, Colonel Vasily Panchenkov told RIA Novosti. Due to serious injuries the assistant to the commander of the ship Captain Shably, navigator-captain Shishchenko and the senior onboard mechanic ensign Shimin have been hospitalized.

A source in the Russian aero-navigation service said that there were 31 people onboard of the Il-76 landing at Makhachkala airport. After the accident all of them were successfully evacuated form the plane.

According to the representative of the press-service of Makhachkala airport, fire broke out in the cabin of the second Il-76. The fire fighters have arrived to the scene and managed to extinguish the blaze within an hour. The fire caused considerable damage to the aircraft.

The airport is now closed and an investigation is underway, with a criminal case into whether there was an infringement of flight regulations.