A Russian IL-76, a heavy lift military transport aircraft crashed with 65 Ukrainian Prisoners of Wars (POWs) in the Belgorod region of Russia, which borders the region. The POWs were being transported for an exchange in swap.
Video | Russian Military Plane Carrying 65 Ukrainian Prisoners Of War Crashes
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A video of the crash, shot from a distance, showed the aircraft rapidly losing altitude and heading straight toward the ground, the IL-76 is out of pilot’s control and crashes near a residential area. The aircraft crashed on its right wing and was up in flames.
“At around 11 am Moscow time (0800 GMT), an IL-76 aircraft crashed in the Belgorod region during a routine flight,” AFP reported quoting Moscow’s defence ministry as saying.
“On board were 65 captured Ukrainian army servicemen being transported to the Belgorod region for exchange, six crew members and three escorts,” it said.
Meanwhile, Russia has claimed that the plane was carrying POWs but AFP, quoting local media in Ukraine, reported that its defence forces downed the aircraft as it was carrying missiles for the S-300 surface-air defence system and not POWs. Russia’s parliament speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, has accused Kyiv of shooting down the plane carrying Prisoners of Wars,
“They shot their own soldiers in the air. Their own,” Volodin told lawmakers in a plenary session. “Our pilots, who were carrying out a humanitarian mission, were shot down.”
The crash occurred in the Korochansky district, northeast of the region’s capital, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram.
“Now an investigation team and emergency services are working on the site. I have changed my working schedule and travelled to the district,” Gladkov said.
The Russian IL-76 is designed to airlift troops, cargo and military equipment like tanks, howitzers, ammunition. The aircraft is manufactured by Ilyushin and was inducted in service in the 1970s when the USSR was in existence. The aircraft was designed with the objective to replace the An-12 (Antonov 12). The aircraft has a civil and military variant and is operated by the Indian Air Force as well.
Though the IL-76 fleet in the Indian Air Force is limited and ageing and the IAF operates new platforms like the C-17 Globemaster III, C-130J Hercules that are US-based.