Ukraine probes plane crash that kills 5 soccer fans
Ukrainian authorities announced Thursday to form a panel of 30 investigators to probe a plane crash near the east Ukrainian city of Donetsk that killed 5 soccer fans on Wednesday evening, according to Xinhua.
The plane from the southern resort of Odessa with 52 people aboard crashed while landing at the Donetsk airport. All the crash victims were soccer fans, who were heading for the Wednesday night European Champions League match between Germany's Borussia Dortmund and Shakhtar Donetsk.
Apart from the 5 people confirmed dead, 9 others were seriously injured and transferred to the hospitals.
The panel, led by Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vilkul has already started to gather evidence for the probe.
The black boxes of the plane have been retrieved and the investigation process would take at least 10 days, Vilkul said at a press conference on Thursday, adding that according to the preliminary probe, the Soviet-designed AN-24 plane was proper to fly.
The Ukrainian government will compensate the families of victims, Vilkul said, without giving details.
Ukrainian authorities have suspended operating license of the South Airlines which operates the plane. The airline, founded in 1999, operates chartered domestic flights.
The chief of the South Airlines, Yury Molodoy told journalists that the technical condition of the aircraft "met all safety requirements". He said that the combination of human error and a foggy weather was the likely cause of the crash.
Thirty-four-year-old crew commander Sergei Meloshenko, who is being treated in Donetsk hospital, told journalists that he did not see the runaway while landing due to heavy fog.
Donetsk Prosecutor Volodymyr Vyshinsky said that during the landing, the plane's left wing hit the weather station near the airport, causing it to crash on the ground, killing five passengers sitting at the right wing.
The plane broke into two pieces and caught fire in the crash, throwing out some passengers, witnesses said.
Twenty-two-year old Oleg Osheko, who survived the horrific accident, said: "The plane split apart, giving us a chance to escape before the fire started."
The last fatal air accident in Ukraine happened on Jan. 27, 2012, when a military helicopter crashed in central Kirovograd region, killing 5 people.
On Aug. 22, 2006 Russian airliner flying from a Black Sea resort Anapa to St. Petersburg crashed near Donetsk, killing 170 people. It was the deadliest air accident in Ukraine's modern history.