At least 16 people were killed and six injured after a plane crashed in Russia’s Tatarstan region on Sunday.
The aircraft, which came down near the city of Menzelinsk, was carrying 20 parachutists and two crew members. Six people were in a serious condition, the health ministry said. The crash took place at about 9:23am (06:23 GMT).
“Six people were rescued, 16 were taken out without signs of life,” the emergencies ministry said.
Tatarstan Governor Rustam Minnikhanov, who travelled to the scene, said pilots reported an engine failure and requested an emergency landing shortly after taking off. He said the plane tried to avoid a nearby residential area as it approached for landing but “the altitude didn’t allow it”.
The plane hit a parked van with its wing and the aircraft turned over.
Russian investigators launched a criminal probe over the violation of safety rules.
The plane was a Let L-410 Turbolet, which is a twin-engine short-range transport aircraft. It was owned by an aeroclub in Menzelinsk, the TASS news agency reported.
According to Interfax, the plane belonged to the Voluntary Society for Assistance to the Army, Aviation and Navy of Russia, which describes itself as a sports and defence organisation.
It was created in the 1920s and Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man to travel to space in 1961, has trained on its airfields.
The head of the Menzelinsk parachuting club said it was not to blame for the accident.
“We are the best, we are among the top five clubs,” Ravil Nurmekhametov told TASS, adding the club has hosted European and World championships.
“Cosmonauts train here,” he said.
The state-run Cosmonaut Training Facility suspended ties with the aeroclub pending an investigation.
Russian aviation safety standards have improved in recent years but accidents, especially involving ageing planes in far-flung regions, are not uncommon.
Last month, an ageing Antonov An-26 transport plane crashed in the Russian far east, killing six people.
All 28 people on board an Antonov An-26 twin-engine turboprop died in a crash in Kamchatka in July.
The country also frequently experiences non-fatal air incidents that result in rerouted flights and emergency landings, usually stemming from technical issues.
Flying in Russia can be particularly dangerous in the vast country’s isolated regions, such as the Arctic and the Far East, where weather conditions are frequently extreme.