CAIRO: Five crew members died when a Ukrainian cargo plane crashed during takeoff early Friday in Luxor, and slid off the runway, bursting into flames, officials said.
The plane was in the process of lifting off from the tarmac when something went wrong and it slammed to the ground, said Egypt s Civil Aviation Minister Ahmad Shafiq, in a statement. The plane then slid off the tarmac and came to rest hundreds of meters from the runway where it was consumed in flames, he said.
Shafiq said the fact that the cargo plane, which had landed in Luxor to refuel, had a full tank, could have contributed to the fire, the minister said.
An aviation official said the plane, a Russian-made Antonov An-12 cargo plane, was traveling from Entebbe, Uganda to Ukraine when it stopped in Luxor. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The official said Egyptian fire engines rushed to the aircraft, but the fire was faster. He said the incident did not affect operations at the rest of the airport.
The bodies of the five crew members have been recovered as has the plane s black box data recorder, the minister said.
Egyptian authorities have begun gathering pieces of the incinerated wreckage and are conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the crash, he said.
Egyptian authorities are working with the Ukrainian embassy in Cairo to arrange the return of the bodies to their home countries.
The consul at the Ukrainian embassy in Cairo, Andriy Panagushyn, said the crew included one person from Russia, two from Belarus and two from Ukraine.
He said he did not know what cargo the plane was carrying.
This is the deadliest aviation accident in Egypt since January 2004, when a Boeing 737 carrying French tourists plunged into the Red Sea after taking off from the resort Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 148 people on board.