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Kazakh plane crash blamed on bad weather
Nazarbayev expresses condolences and orders an investigation and a day of mourning.
By Alexandra Babkina and Staff
ASTANA – Kazakhstani officials are blaming bad weather for the January 29 crash of a Kazakhstani airliner that killed all 21 people on board, Tengri News reported, citing Almaty Oblast Emergency Situations Department chief Sabit Bitayev.
As part of an investigation, Kazakhstani officials on January 30 sent the plane’s black box to Moscow. Evidence recovered from the box should be available within 15 days, said Bakhytzhan Sagintayev, the minister of regional development.
Officials are rejecting a theory that the plane, operated by the SCAT airline, ran out of fuel, he said. They also discounted a claim that the pilot lacked experience.
Vladimir Yevdokimov had more than 1,000 hours of flight time on the Bombardier CRJ-200 and more than 18,000 hours overall, according to a statement obtained by Central Asia Online.
The plane was flying from Kokshetau to Almaty when it crashed in heavy fog 5km short of its destination. Visibility was only about 220m and the plane crashed as it tried to climb to circle the airport for a second landing attempt, airline President Vladimir Denisov said, according to Kazakhstan's Channel 7 TV.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev declared January 31 a national day of mourning and ordered an investigation into the crash, Novosti-Kazakhstan reported. Nazarbayev expressed his condolences to the relatives of the dead and promised that aid would be forthcoming, according to his press office.
SCAT released a press statement January 30 saying this was the first plane crash it has had in 15 years of operations in Kazakhstan.
"In our turn, we express deep and sincere condolences to the relatives and loved ones of the victims. We lost our co-workers with whom we were connected by years of joint work and true friendship, and we mourn with all of you," the statement said.
The crash killed all 16 passengers and five crew members. Relatives have identified 17 bodies, and identification is continuing. Twenty of the dead were Kazakstanis, while one was Kyrgyz. Authorities initially had put the death toll at 20.
Baurzhan Kushkarbayev, whose colleagues Akram Nizamov and Nikolai Lotkov were on the plane, said he was waiting for them at the Almaty airport when the plane crashed.
"I still can't believe this happened," he said. "I'm in shock right now; they were such good people."
This was the second plane crash in Kazakhstan in less than two months. On December 25, a military transport plane crashed near Shymkent, killing all 27 on board.