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21 killed when jet crashes in fog short of airport

When a commercial airplane goes down overseas, even if it is not a U.S.-based airline and no Americans are on board, is still important to examine because of the possibility that something similar could happen in this country. A recent international plane crash in Kazakhstan is an example of this.

Although it is unlikely that any Americans were on board the flight, operated by a Kazakh carrier called SCAT, the plane that crashed is no doubt familiar to many people here. It was a Bombardier CRJ-200, a Canadian-built plane that flies many routes for U.S. carriers, especially regional airlines.

According to government officials at the scene, poor weather was suspected as the cause of the crash. Visibility was practically nil and the plane was about 3 miles from the airport in Almaty, Kazakhstan, when it crashed. Witnesses said that there was no visible or audible warning that the plane was in trouble before it crashed -- it simply "plunged to the earth" as one official put it.

It might be difficult to reconstruct what happened to cause the crash. While the flight data recorder was recovered, the plane was in numerous pieces on the ground. According to officials at the airport, the weather did create difficult conditions but there were not any restrictions on aircraft coming in to delay or divert their landings.

Officials said a total of 21 people, 16 passengers and five crew members, were killed in the crash. The accident was the second one in just over a month in the country; a military plane crash killed 27 people on Christmas Day.

Source: Reuters, "Passenger plane crash kills 21 in Kazakhstan," Mariya Gordeyeva, Jan. 29, 2013

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