A passenger jet has crashed in Kazakhstan, killing at least 12 people but leaving dozens of survivors.
The Bel Airplane was flying from Almaty – Kazakhstan’s largest city – to the capital Nur-Sultan when it smashed into a building just after take-off.
The Fokker aircraft had 100 passengers and crew on board. Survivors described walking from the wreckage into the dark and snow.
About 60 are being treated in hospital. The cause of the crash is unclear.
A Reuters reporter close to the scene said there was heavy fog at the time.
There has been conflicting information about the death toll. The interior ministry initially said 15 people had been killed, but it later published a list of victims that mentioned only 12 dead – including the captain.
What’s known about the crash?
The Fokker 100 plane was carrying 95 passengers – including eight children – as well as five crew, the interior ministry said.
The Flightradar24 information website said the flight departed at 01:21 GMT, and “the last signal was received in that same minute”.
The airport said the plane lost height at 07:22 local time (01:22 GMT), before striking a concrete barrier and crashing into a two-storey building. There was no fire upon impact.
Maral Erman, one of the survivors, said the plane was shaking during take-off, Tengri News website reports. She said it first felt as if the plane had landed, but in fact “we hit something”.
“There wasn’t much chaos on board,” she said. “There was no screaming.” Ms. Erman said the crew opened the exit for passengers to get out of the aircraft.
She added that she later saw the plane had “split in half”.
Footage of the scene shows the cockpit wedged into the side of the building.
Bek Air canceled all its flights soon after the crash.
Almaty’s airport said it was operating normally and the flight schedule was unaffected.
Nur-Sultan – a city formerly known as Astana – was renamed after former-President Nursultan Nazarbayev shortly after he stood down in March.
What’s been the reaction?
A special commission will be set up to determine the cause of the crash.
Kazakhstan’s President Qasym-Jomart Toqayev has declared a day of national mourning on Friday.
He expressed his “deep condolences” to relatives and said, “all those responsible will be severely punished in accordance with the law”.
What is known about Bek Air?
Bek Air was founded in 1999, initially targeting VIP flight operations, the company’s website says.
Nowadays, the company describes itself as Kazakhstan’s first low-cost airline. Its fleet is made up of seven Fokker-100 aircraft.
This is not the first serious plane crash in the city. On 29 January 2013, a passenger plane traveling from the northern town of Kokshetau came down near Almaty, killing 20 people.
A month earlier, 27 people died when a military plane carrying senior Kazakh security officials crashed in the south of the country.