Six dead as plane crashes in Russia during tests: ministry
At least six crew members, including two citizens of Myanmar, died when a plane they were testing crashed in central Russia on Saturday, Russian news agencies reported.
Six crew members died when the AN-148 plane crashed and burst into flames on Saturday morning around 160 kilometres (100 miles) east of the city of Belgorod, the emergency ministry said in a statement, citing preliminary data.
Two pilots from Myanmar died in the crash, a spokesman for the regional emergency ministry told the ITAR-TASS news agency.
In conflicting reports, a spokesman for the investigative committee's military section said that seven people died, according to the Interfax news agency.
A source at the Voronezh aircraft factory, which owned the plane, told the RIA Novosti agency it was undergoing tests prior to being sent to Myanmar.
"The plane had been tested for two weeks. This was its first flight today. It was being prepared for Myanmar," the source said.
The plane disappeared from the radar at 10:40 am (0740 GMT), and a plane flying over the area later spotted a fire where it crashed, the source said.
Witnesses cited by the Interfax news agency said the plane appeared to burst into flames before hitting the ground.
The Investigative Committee said in a statement that it had opened a criminal investigation into breaches of flight safety rules.
The AN-148, developed jointly by the Voronezh factory and Ukraine's Antonov factory, is a jet plane with a regional range that can be used for passengers and cargo.
Western governments have imposed sanctions on investment and travel over human rights abuses in military-ruled Myanmar.
Last month, EU lawmakers urged China, India and Russia to pressure Myanmar to improve human rights and to stop supplying arms to the regime.
© 2011 AFP