A plane carrying a group of paratroopers crashed Sunday morning after taking off in the Russian region of Tatarstan, killing 16 and injuring six, the Emergency Ministry said.
At a height of 70 meters, the pilots reported that their left engine had failed and attempted an emergency landing near the town of Menzelinsk, trying to turn the aircraft to the left to avoid a populated area, said the regional governor.
But the wing of the plane struck a Gazelle vehicle as the plane landed and overturned, Tatarstan Governor Rustam Minnikhanov said.
The plane was carrying 20 paratroopers and two crew members. Six people were in serious condition, the health ministry said.
The Let L-410 Turbolet short-range twin-engine transport aircraft belonged to a flying club in the city of Menzelinsk. The flying club declined to comment, citing a law enforcement investigation into the incident.
Cosmonauts use the area for training and the flying club has hosted local, European and world championships, club manager Ravil Nurmukhametov said, according to TASS.
The investigative committee, which is investigating serious crimes, said it has opened a criminal investigation into a suspected breach of safety rules.
The state-run Cosmonaut Training Center has suspended ties with the flying club pending an investigation, a source cited by TASS said.
Photographs of some of the paratroopers on board posing in a kit or with a plane were shown on REN TV and on social media.
Russian aviation safety standards have been tightened in recent years, but accidents continue to occur, especially in remote areas.
An aging Antonov An-26 transport plane crashed in Russia’s Far East last month, killing six people. All 28 people aboard an Antonov An-26 twin-engine turboprop died in an accident in Kamchatka in July.