Plane crash survivors’ miraculous escape
Passengers who survived a deadly plane crash in Kazakhstan have spoken out about their terrifying ordeal.
At least 12 people were killed after a Bek Air plane with 93 passengers and five crew on board crashed shortly after takeoff near Almaty's airport.
The plane crashed just 19 seconds after takeoff, according to data provided by Flightradar24.
One survivor, businessman Aslan Nazaraliyev, said the plane had begun vibrating violently, telling the BBC parts of it were crushed like "an aluminium can".
"It was ugly. It was dark. We were lighting with cell phone lights," Mr Nazaraliyev said.
He and a few others managed to get out and helped fellow passengers to safety.
Another survivor told 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.
Survivor Aslan Nazaraliyev said the plane began falling at an angle shortly after takeoff.
"At some point we started falling, not vertically, but at an angle. It seemed like control over the plane had been lost," she told Vremya newspaper, Reuters reported.
"At first the left wing jolted really hard, then the right. The plane continued to gain altitude, shaking quite severely, and then went down," Nazaraliyev also told The Associated Press by phone.
FOOTAGE SHOWS PLANE WRECKAGE
Videos and photos show the damaged plane broken into several parts near Kyzyl Tu village, with the nose embedded in a partially-collapsed house.
Wreckage and bodies were strewn across the snow-covered ground as emergency workers frantically attempt to treat the injured to the sound of screams and manic commentary in a foreign language.
Самолет упал близ Алматы: есть выжившие pic.twitter.com/hQEftPeTRs— МИА Казинформ (@kazinformkz) December 27, 2019
Kazakhstan plane crash: Bek Air plane goes down near Almaty airport; multiple fatalities reported— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) December 27, 2019
Deputy Prime Minister Roman Sklyar said the plane's tail had scraped the runway twice during takeoff, leaving marks.
He said most of the passengers who died or suffered serious injuries had been in the front part of the plane. The captain has been confirmed as one of the fatalities. The editor of the Informburo.kz website said one of its journalists, 35-year-old Dana Kruglova, was also killed while flying to see her parents for the New Year.
WHAT CAUSED THE CRASH?
The cause of the crash is unknown, but experts say the weather may have been a contributing factor.
Temperatures dipped to -7C at Almaty airport on the day of the crash.
Government officials said the plane was de-iced before the flight, but Nazaraliyev said the wings of the plane were covered in ice, and passengers who used emergency exits over the wings were slipping and falling down.
Strategic Aviation Solutions chairman Neil Hansford told news.com.au there was no issue with the airline's safety.
"They are an absolutely reliable aeroplane," he said. "It's going to be mechanical error … it's going to be engineering or human error.
"The usual source of where you find how competent airlines are is you go to airlinesratings.com and they haven't even done an analysis for this airline.
"So it would suggest that it probably hasn't had an International Civil Aviation Organisation audit because there's no information given on it whatsoever."
David Soucie, a former Federal Aviation Administration safety inspector based in Hawaii, said freezing conditions may have been a contributing factor.
"The aeroplane is pretty much a tank. That aeroplane has been around for a long time, if properly maintained, that aircraft could continue to fly for many more years yet," he told CNN. "It's too early to state anything about maintenance or anything else on the aircraft, I don't want to jump ahead of the game here. But at this point, my suspect would be weather being the biggest factor."
Kazakhstan's President Qasym-Jomart Toqayev has declared a day of national mourning on Friday, expressing his "deep condolences" to relatives.
He pledged to provide families of victims with compensation and said that those responsible "will be severely punished in accordance with the law".
This is not the first serious plane crash in Almaty. In January 2013, a passenger plane flying down from the northern town of Kokshetau came down near the city, killing 20 people.
The year before that, 27 people died when a military plane carrying Kazakh security officials crashed in the country's south.