A Turkish cargo jet has crashed near Kyrgyzstan’s Manas airport, killing at least 37 people, most of them residents of the village struck by the Boeing 747 as it tried to land in dense fog.
According to the airport administration, the plane was supposed to make a stopover at Manas, near the capital city Bishkek, on its way from Hong Kong to Istanbul.
It crashed when trying to land in poor visibility at 7:31am local time (12:31pm AEDT).
The doomed plane ploughed for a few hundred metres through the village, shattering into pieces and damaging some 15 buildings.
Plumes of smoke rose above the crash site, with some buildings razed to the ground, and others pierced by parts of the plane.
The torn-off tail assembly, rotated upside down, towered above a one-storey house.
A football pitch-sized area nearby was completely levelled and covered with twisted pieces of metal.
Locals said they had initially thought the area was struck by an earthquake.
“Around 7:00 in the morning I heard a strong swat [noise] and after that all the nearest houses were shaken,” local resident Andrei Andreyev said.
“Of course, everyone got frightened and started to run out of the houses to the street.
“Nobody understood what was going on because there was a fog, the weather was not good.”
Initial estimates put the death toll from the crash at 37, Kyrgyzstan’s emergencies ministry said.
Kyrgyzstan’s transport ministry said there were five people on board the plane, which belonged to Turkish firm ACT Airlines.
“Our TC-MCL signed plane, flying on Jan. 16 from Hong Kong to Bishkek, crashed on landing at Bishkek at the end of the runway for an unknown reason,” ACT Airlines said in an emailed statement.
“More information will be disclosed concerning our four-person team when we get clear information.”