Bek Air plane crashes near Kazakhstan's Almaty airport

Kazakhstan's aviation agency said at least 12 killed after plane, heading to Nur-Sultan, lost altitude during takeoff.

    Bek Air plane crashes near Kazakhstan's Almaty airport
    Emergency and security personnel are seen at the site of the plane crash near Almaty [Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters]

    At least 12 people have died after a Bek Air plane with almost 100 people on board crashed near the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan shortly after taking off.

    The Fokker 100 aircraft, heading for the capital, Nur-Sultan, on a pre-dawn flight on Friday, "lost altitude during takeoff and broke through a concrete fence" before hitting a two-storey building, Kazakhstan's Civil Aviation Committee said in a statement.

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    In a statement posted on social media, Almaty International Airport also said 22 people suffered severe injuries and were taken to two hospitals.

    The Almaty healthcare department had earlier said that at least 15 people died. This figure was scaled down to 14 by government officials.

    The higher figure was the result of confusion on the ground, a spokeswoman for the department said.

    A survivor told English-language news website Tengrinews she heard a "terrifying sound" before the plane started losing altitude.

    "The plane was flying with a tilt. Everything was like in a movie: Screaming, shouting, people crying," she said.

    Images posted on social media showed several rescue personnel digging through the wreckage of the Bek Air aircraft.

    A special commission is investigating the circumstances leading to the deadly incident, airport officials said.

    The crash site in Almerek village - just beyond the end of the runway - has been cordoned off. 

    In a statement published on social media, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev expressed his condolences to the friends and families of those killed in the crash.

    "All those injured will be rendered assistance. All those responsible will carry severe punishment in accordance with the law," Kazinform news agency quoted the president as saying in the Kazakh language.

    The company manufacturing the aircraft went bankrupt in 1996 and the production of the Fokker 100 stopped the following year.

    All Bek Air and Fokker 100 flights in Kazakhstan have been suspended pending the investigation of the crash, the country's authorities said. 

    Emergency and security personnel are seen at the site of a plane crash near Almaty
    All Bek Air and Fokker 100 flights in Kazakhstan have been suspended pending the investigation of the crash [Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters]

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies