In a horrific tragedy, an airplane carrying 22 parachute jumpers crashed in a Russian lumberyard Sunday, killing 16 people on board. Two of those killed were the pilots of the aircraft. While the plane is believed to have had engine trouble after takeoff, authorities also believe the plane was also overloaded when it went down.
The crash happened in Tartarstan, less than a mile from where the plane took off. Witnesses reported the plane was flying at a low altitude over some trees when it crashed. The twin-engine L-410 was carrying parachutists from the Menzelinsky flying club. They were on a training mission at the time.
Additionally, the two pilots were identified as Mikhail Belyaev, 50, and Alexander Zykov, 51. According to the U.S. Sun, they were able to steer the plane away from a residential area before hitting the ground. Whatever issues were happening with the engine, the fuselage of the aircraft broke in two pieces. It then tragically fell to the ground.
Of the 16 people killed, two were women. Six people were injured but rescued from the wreckage.
Eyewitness Sees Plane Go Down
A witness only identified as Oksana says she saw the event unfold.
“I started taking photos, after (my husband) said it was falling. We were around the petrol station at that moment. We turned around and drove there. And it was on fire [after crash], well, actually there was no fire but smoke. My husband pulled out a fire extinguisher, and then people started pulling out [victims].”
Additionally, Air Traffic Control said they lost communication with the plane shortly after it took off.
“At 09.23 a.m. a message was received about the crash of a light aircraft near the RES base in the city of Menzelinsk,” said The Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia. “Preliminary information, units of the Menzelinsk fire and rescue garrison are heading to the place of call.”
Interestingly, the small plane was previously a part of the USSR Air Force. After it was retired from the service, it remained in storage until it began being used by the flying club. The plane had been in operation since 1987.
Airplane Carrying Marriage Proposal Banner Crashes
In a similar tragedy, an airplane trailing a “will you marry me” banner crashed in Canada last week, killing one passenger on board.
Though the victim hasn’t been identified, authorities also did not say whether the passenger onboard was responsible for the marriage proposal.
Further, the plane was near Montreal when it took off. It was only about 15 minutes into the flight when it went down. Now authorities are investigating what caused the plane to crash.
“We are looking to speak to the pilot when possible,” Transportation Safety Board spokesman Chris Krepski said. He added: “We haven’t ruled out anything yet. We need to take a close look at everything.”
The pilot survived and is being treated for his injuries.