Moment ‘Russian made’ transport plane careers off runway in Africa and explodes in giant fireball amid suspicions jet was linked to Wagner
- Soviet-designed Il-76 came down in Mali where Wagner troops are stationed
This is the dramatic moment a giant ‘Russian made’ transport plane careered off a runway in Africa and exploded into a fireball amid suspicions the jet was linked to the Wagner army.
The Il-76 plane burst into flames in Mali – where Wagner’s troops are stationed – just weeks after the private mercenary group’s leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed in an exploding business jet near Moscow.
The Ilyushin was captured on film landing in Gao but failed to come to a stop and quickly transformed into a raging inferno. It was reported that the plane’s Russian pilot had died.
Footage shows the stricken plane ablaze with large black plumes of smoke seen billowing into the sky.
Some reports had linked the flight to the controversial Wagner mercenary army who operate in Mali and while this has been denied, it was left open the possibility that the paramilitary group was associated with the plane.
The ‘Russian made’ Il-76 plane landed in Mali but then careered off the runway where it exploded
This is the dramatic moment that the plane exploded into a massive fireball after crashing in Gao, Mali
Footage shows the stricken plane ablaze with large black plumes of smoke seen billowing into the sky
Dambiev pro-war Telegram channel said the crashed Il-76 was operated by a company from Belarus – a close Russian ally. The company is named Ruby Star Airways and is headquartered in Minsk. Pictured: A Il-76 cargo plane of Belorussian ‘Ruby Star’ airlines
It has not yet been established how many casualties there were but there are fears up to 140 passengers may have been on board.
The footage seemingly dispels reports that the aircraft was shot out of the sky by a man-portable air defence system.
It’s understood that the plane landed too far down the 2,500 metre runway. It failed to brake in less than 500 metres and overshot the runway, exploding in a huge inferno.
Sources close to Wagner have denied the Russian mercenary group was linked to the flight, even though its forces are active in the African country. It did not rule out the possibility that Wagner was linked to the plane.
The aircraft was used by the Malian military, according to Grey Zone Telegram channel, which is close to Wagner.
‘This plane, or rather the flight, did not transport any personnel of the Wagner Group,’ said the channel.
It said earlier: ‘There were no fighters or pilots of the Wagner Group on board.’
It was close to the airport in Gao, a frontline city in the country’s long-running armed conflict
The aircraft (pictured on fire) was used by the Malian military, according to Grey Zone Telegram channel, which is close to Wagner
Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group private military contractor, looks from a military vehicle in June before his death
Mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, and his top lieutenants were among the 10 people killed in the crash northwest of the Russian capital in August
The crash took place on Saturday but new footage has emerged of the moment the plane blew up.
Gao is a frontline city in the country’s long-running armed conflict.
The crash was one month to the day after Wagner’s billionaire boss Prigozhin – once a close ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin – was killed when his Embraer Legacy 600 jet came down near Moscow.
An explosion on the plane was suspected, and there were unsubstantiated claims Prigozhin had been assassinated on the orders of Putin.
Dambiev pro-war Telegram channel said the crashed Il-76 was operated by a company from Belarus – a close Russian ally.
The company is named Ruby Star Airways and is headquartered in Minsk.
After a failed coup in Russia in June led by Prigozhin, a number of Wagner forces were sent to Belarus.
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