DONETSK, February 14 (RIA Novosti) - Another body has been found in the wreckage of the crash-landed An-24 plane in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, bringing the total death count to five, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s emergencies service said in the small hours of Thursday, local time.
“The fifth body has been recovered,” Inna Sedova told RIA Novosti by phone.
From five to twelve people were injured, according to various sources.
Sedova said earlier in the day that the hull of the ill-fated plane was “badly deformed” and rescuers were unable to reach certain areas.
Though one person remains unaccounted for, the regional administration’s press service said that the search and rescue effort ended shortly after midnight Moscow time [20:00 GMT].
The plane with 45 people onboard missed the landing strip, turned upside down, broke into pieces and caught fire on Wednesday evening. Thirty-nine passengers were evacuated before the fire started.
The cause of the crash remain unknown. A criminal case was launched. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has set up a special commission to investigate causes and circumstances of the crash.
Oleh Osheka, a passenger, told journalists that “an engine failed during the landing.” He said the plane’s speed increased, then the aircraft listed to the right and hit the ground.
“The hull split, giving us a chance to leave the plane before the fire started,” he said.
A crew member who was in the cockpit at the moment of the crash told Ukraine’s 5 Kanal that the pilot decided to go around shortly before the plane hit the ground.
“I don’t recall exactly what happened next… The cockpit turned upside down, the right engine caught fire, the left was smoldering. We left the cockpit and started pulling people out, because they were trapped by their seats,” he said.
The charter flight was carrying football fans from Odessa to Donetsk. They were heading for a UEFA Champions League game between Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Dortmund. The game, which ended in a 2-2 draw, began with a minute of silence.
A high-ranking official of the Odessa Region administration, Valery Bobkov, was among the dead. His nine-year-old child survived the crash. A number of other officials and businessmen from Odessa also were on board the plane.
Shakhtar Donetsk President Rinat Akhmetov offered condolences to the victims’ families on behalf of the club.
“We are all shocked by this terrible tragedy. Words can’t express the pain felt by each of us - the players, the coaches, other Shakhtar football club employees and all fans,” he said in a statement posted on the club’s official website.
A number of accidents involving An-24 planes were reported in the past years. In June 2012, a plane en route to Irkutsk had to perform an emergency landing, but no casualties were reported. In 2010-2011, four accidents involving An-24 claimed the lives of 18 people in total.
Updates with number of wounded in para 3, passengers and crew statements in paras 8-11, details in paras 7 and 12-13, Shakhtar Donetsk’s statement in paras 14-15, An-24 statistics in para 16.