Russian cargo plane crashes, killing 7

July 30, 2007 - 0:0

MOSCOW (AP) -- A 43-year-old Russian cargo plane crashed Sunday minutes after taking off from a Moscow airport, killing all seven crew on board, officials said.

The An-12 four-engine turboprop belonging to the private Atran carrier went down at 4:22 am local time, just after taking off from the Domodedovo airport southeast of Moscow, Russian Emergency Situations spokesman Viktor Beltsov said. The plane slammed into a field, shattering debris over a wide area. There were no injuries on the ground, Beltsov said. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear. Rescue teams have recovered both of the plane's cockpit recorders, which are vital for investigators to determine the reason behind the crash, Beltsov said. Russia and the other former Soviet republics had the world's worst air traffic safety record last year, with an accident rate 13 times the world average, according to the International Air Transport Association. Experts have blamed weak government controls, poor pilot training and a cost-cutting mentality among many carriers that affects safety. On Saturday, a small private helicopter crashed in the Ural Mountains region of Udmurtia, killing all five people on board, Beltsov said. Also on Saturday, a Boeing 757 of Russia's private VIM-Avia carrier bound for Naples, Italy, had to return to Moscow after a crack was discovered in its windscreen, the Interfax news agency reported. It landed safely