Five killed in plane crash near Kiev

People stand near an the wreckage of an aircraft on southwestern outskirts of Kiev, photo: CTK

A small chartered plane flying from the Czech Republic to Kiev crashed near the Ukrainian capital on Sunday just five minutes away from its destination. It was carrying five people – all of them Czech nationals – and everyone on board was killed.

People stand near an the wreckage of an aircraft on southwestern outskirts of Kiev,  photo: CTK
The private civilian plane had taken off from Hradec Kralove airport in east Bohemia and after what appears to have been a smooth three hour flight it was preparing to land at Kiev’s second largest airport Zhulyani, which is around twenty minutes drive from the city centre and close to residential areas. Just five minutes before it was due to land it dropped off radar screens and shortly after crashed in a field, hitting an empty shed. Some eyewitnesses say it exploded while still in the air, others claim it blew up as it hit the shed, scattering debris all over the field. All five casualties were later identified as Czech citizens. Jan Padourek, first secretary at the Czech Embassy in Kiev says the families of the victims have been informed and an investigation is now underway.

“According to information received from the Ukrainian authorities the Ministry of Extraordinary situations has just began investigating the case. The investigation can be very complicated because most likely there was no black box on board the plane.”

Daniel Tucek of Delta System Air which operates Hradec Kralove Airport has confirmed the fact that there was no black box. He also says that the plane was in good technical condition and the pilot who flew the Beechcraft C90 was one of the most experienced pilots in his league. At this point investigators are still collecting evidence in the field hoping that the plane’s charred remains might give them some indication of what happened on the ill-fated flight. Speculation abounds – some Czech experts say it could have been a lack of fuel which would explain why the pilot asked for permission to land in a dense fog. Others say visibility was so bad he could have become disoriented. Jan Padourek confirmed the low visibility but said it was premature to reach any conclusions.

People stand near an the wreckage of an aircraft on southwestern outskirts of Kiev,  photo: CTK
“We know that on the night it happened there was a dense fog in Kiev”.

So that might account for the crash?

“At this point it is just speculation. We have to wait for the outcome of the investigation. I am not able to confirm anything more at this point.”

The investigation is expected to take several weeks. But given the lack of a black box we may never get a clear answer as to what caused the tragedy. The local media say that, tragic as the incident was, it was fortunate that the plane made it past a busy highway, packed with people coming home from a weekend in the country and managed to avoid a residential area which was so close by that several people saw the tragedy unfold from their windows.