Russian plane crashes in Tatarstan; 16 of 22 passengers dead

Sixteen people were killed when a plane carrying paratroopers crashed in central Russia on Sunday, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

The L-410 plane carrying 22 people crashed at around 9:23 a.m. local time (0623 GMT) while flying over the republic of Tatarstan, the ministry said on its Telegram channel.

“Six people were rescued, 16 were evacuated with no sign of life,” the ministry said.

The ministry previously said 15 people had died and the plane was carrying 23 people.

Footage released by the ministry showed the plane broken in two with a badly dented nose.

The six survivors were hospitalized, the local health ministry told the Interfax news agency.

Tatarstan leader Rustam Minnikhanov was traveling to the scene of the crash, a statement on his website said.

According to Interfax, the plane belonged to the Voluntary Society for the Assistance of the Army, Air Force and Navy of Russia, which describes itself as a sports and defense organization.

The head of the organization’s regional branch said the skydiving club that organized the flight was not to blame.

“We are the best, we are among the top five clubs,” Ravil Nurmekhametov told TASS news agency, adding that the club had hosted European and world championships.

“Cosmonauts train here,” he said.

The Czech-built L-410 light aircraft was one of two planes used by the club, according to its website.

Two L-410 planes suffered fatal crashes in Russia earlier this year, killing a total of eight.

Russia was notorious for its plane crashes, but has improved air traffic safety in recent years, with major airlines switching from Soviet planes to modern jets.

But poor aircraft maintenance and lax safety standards still lead to frequent accidents in remote areas involving light aircraft, sometimes with large-scale tragedies.

This story was published from a news feed with no text edits. Only the title has been changed.

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Rose D. Jones