A Russian cargo plane veered out of control on landing at Kyrgyzstan's main civilian airport on Wednesday and slammed into a concrete wall, injuring all nine crew members, officials said.
The Ilyushin-62, belonging to Russia's Tretyakovo air transport company, burst into flames on impact at Manas airport in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek. Television footage showed a large portion of the craft's tail lying in a nearby field.
"The aircraft descended too late and once it ran out of runway it skidded into the surrounding grass and gravel field before finally hitting the concrete wall around the airport," a Kyrgyz government official told Reuters.
"The crew were probably born under a lucky star," he said. "The aircraft now looks like a shapeless heap of metal."
The official said it was the worst accident at Manas airport in 25 years.
A U.S.-led military contingent based at the airport said the craft's crew members were all injured.
"Nine crew members were on board the aircraft. At the request of airport officials, eight Russian crew members were transported to the...airbase medical clinic and are currently in stable condition with minor injuries," a statement from the contingent said. "The ninth crew member is being treated by civilian authorities."
U.S. servicemen, part of a multinational force deployed at Manas for service in Afghanistan, helped put out the blaze.
Kyrgyz airport officials have declined to comment, but officials from Kyrgyzstan's emergencies ministry had earlier said that the Russian crew, which they put at 11, was unhurt.
The four-engine Il-62, which first flew in the 1960s, was the mainstay of the Soviet Union's long range civil air services used normally for passengers.
Around 2,000 troops from eight Western states and 18 jet fighters are stationed at Manas to take part in the U.S.-led military campaign in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Reuters, October 23, 2002