Sixty eight people were killed after a Boeing-737 bound for Iran crashed shortly after takeoff from the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek on Sunday.
The aircraft, carrying 90 people, went down a few kilometres from Bishkek’s Manas airport after the plane suffered a dramatic loss of cabin pressure, said Prime Minister Igor Chudinov.
“The plane took off and then it lost pressure,” Chudinov told reporters. It was bound for Tehran, according to airport officials.
“According to updated information, 68 were killed” of the total 83 passengers, Chudinov’s spokeswoman Rosa Daudova said, adding that 24 Kyrgyz, 52 Iranians, one Turkish national, two Canadians, three Kazakhs and one Chinese were on board.
The plane was owned by Itek Air, a private Kyrgyz company, that is on the European Union blacklist of airlines banned from flying in EU airspace.
Chudinov said all seven crew members were among the survivors of the crash, the worst in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan since the Central Asian state gained independence.
The pilot made an emergency landing in a field not far from the runway and the plane caught fire, he said.
“Everywhere around the site there were bodyparts of the unfortunate passengers, you could hear screams and moans, there was a horrible stench of burning bodies,” a witness told a local radio station.
“Our three telephones were calling incessantly, people were crying, could not speak, yelled at us, demanding to know how we allowed such a tragedy. There were children there, young sportsmen, and their parents’ grief was overwhelming,” an airport information service employee told AFP.