Shymkent, Kazakhstan – A military plane crashed in Kazakhstan’s southern region on Tuesday, killing all 27 people aboard including the commander of the country’s border guards.
The transport plane, a twin engine Antonov An-72, disappeared from radar about 7 pm local time while it was descending toward an airport in Shymkent.
Local TV footage showed pictures and video of the plane’s charred and mangled remains in the middle of a massive blizzard, reports Reuters.
The country’s KNB security has announced that the crashed plane, which was flying from the capital of Astana, belonged to Kazakhstan’s border troops. It also acknowledged that the commander, Turganbek Stambekov, was among the passengers on board. Seven crew members were aboard along with 20 servicemen.
The plane was flying through bad weather when it attempted to land during its fourth circle around the airport. A witness reported hearing a loud explosion and seeing flames at the crash site when he arrived. Rescue teams were not immediately able to reach the crash site because it is located in an open-cast mine about 13 miles from its destination city.
The Wall Street Journal notes that authorities provided few details about the accident and did not give a cause. Stambekov was initially appointed as head of the border service in June. His predecessor was ousted after a mass killing of 14 frontier troops took place in May at an outpost near the country’s border with China.
The area the plane was attempting to land in has experienced heavy snow, wind, and low temperatures in recent weeks, causing widespread flight delays. It is not clear why the plane was allowed to fly in bad weather.