Slovak Army Aicraft Crashes - 42 Dead

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2nd Lieutenant
Nov 3, 2004
Praga Mater Urbium
Slovak plane crash leaves 42 dead

Forty-two people died when a Slovakian military aircraft came down in a remote mountain area in northern Hungary.

Only one person survived when the Soviet-designed An-24 crashed near Telkibanya on the Slovak border.

The plane was carrying Slovak peacekeeping troops from Pristina in Kosovo to Kosice in Slovakia.

It crashed at about 1930 (1830 GMT) on Thursday. Originally the death toll was given as 44, but it was revised downwards by the Slovak authorities.

The heavily wooded mountainside where the plane came down and bitter winter temperatures contributed to the destruction and hampered rescue efforts, officials added.

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"It's minus 18 degrees Celsius here. The plane's fuselage is completely burnt out. It is absolutely inconceivable that there could be other survivors," said Hungarian chief police spokesman Laszlo Garamvolgyi.

We are trying to piece together the bodies of the victims which were scattered over a very large area - it's very grim
Hungarian interior ministry spokesman

The sole survivor - a Slovak first lieutenant - is now in hospital in Kosice, where a doctor said he was in a stable condition despite swelling to the brain. He was put into a medically-induced sleep.

His wife, Michaela Farkasova, told Slovak television that he had called her on his mobile phone shortly after the crash.

"He told me that the aircraft had crashed and was on fire and was somewhere in the forest. He told me that he was alive and to alert the rescue services and police. Then the line went dead."

Grim search

According to the Hungarian Disaster Management Agency, the plane sliced through the tops of trees before crashing.

It then caught fire and emergency crews battled to put out the blaze.

Helicopters were reportedly unable to reach the crash site, and wreckage and bodies were scattered over a wide area.

A spokesman for the Hungarian interior ministry, Tibor Dobson, said the aircraft burst into flames as it approached the border.

"We are trying to piece together the bodies of the victims which were scattered over a very large area," he said.

"It's very grim."

Slovakia has some 100 troops stationed in Kosovo as part of the Nato-led peacekeeping force.

'Our plane has crashed'
20/01/2006 16:45 - (SA)
[Related Articles Plane crash kills 44 ]

Bratislava - Michaela Farkasova couldn't wait to see her husband who was returning on Thursday from Kosovo where he was ending his six-month peacekeeping mission in the Balkans. But the call came early.

"He called me to say the plane crashed and that I should alert the police, rescuers and such," Farkasova told Slovak TA3 station in a phone interview. "He said he was alive but weak."

Martin Farkas, 27, was the sole survivor of the crash that killed at least 42 people. It was not immediately clear how he got out of the plane and what happened before the crash near the Hungarian town of Hejce, just 10km from the Slovak border.

According to eyewitnesses, the Ukrainian-designed AN-24 plane, was flying extremely low when it plowed into a forest, crushing trees for about 600m before slamming into a mountain.

"He was walking around the burning plane, looking for the best (cellphone) signal so he could seek help," Farkasova told TASR news agency, adding that the conversation was soon cut off.

The soldier apparently trudged through knee-deep snow and freezing temperatures before being picked up by a Hungarian ambulance.

"He was communicating during transportation. He told us he heard some more voices," a rescuer was quoted as saying by Slovakia's SME daily.

"We went immediately to the site of the crash, but unfortunately we found nobody alive," he said.

The soldier was in shock but conscious during the 30km drive across the border to the Louis Pasteur hospital in the eastern Slovak town of Kosice. A scan revealed swelling of the brain and the patient was put into a medically induced sleep.

Doctor Peter Belus said the soldier had a concussion but was in stable condition. "This is a miracle," Belus told SME. "In view of the fact that I hear reports of more than 40 people dead, the injuries he sustained are minimal."
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Army plane crashes in Hungary, killing 44

January 20 2006 at 07:46AM By Andras Gergely

Hejce, Hungary - A Slovak military plane crashed into a mountain in eastern Hungary on Thursday, killing 44 people, mostly peacekeepers from the Nato mission in Kosovo, Hungarian police said.

"Forty-four people died, this is certain, and one survived," Hungarian chief police spokesman Laszlo Garamvolgyi told a news conference on Friday in Hejce, a village around 10km from the crash site in Telkibanya.

Slovak defence ministry officials earlier said that most of the people on the aircraft were from KFOR, the peacekeeping force in Kosovo, and that those on board were on a regular troop rotation.

According to a Nato spokesperson in Kosovo around 100 Slovak soldiers are based there as part of the 17 100-strong force.
The crash site, in snowy, forested, mountains, 700 metres up, was just 20km from the Kosice base in Slovakia where the aircraft had been heading on its flight from Pristina.

The only survivor was taken in an ambulance to Kosice, but Garamvolgyi said he was so badly injured he did not expect him to survive.

Hungarian officials said the aircraft was on fire when the fire brigade arrived after it crashed at 18h30 GMT.

It was an Antonov-24 a twin engined plane which started service in 1959 according to the Antonov website.

"This aircraft was an AN-24 military aircraft flying from Pristina to Kosice in Slovakia and it crashed in Telkibanya, near the Slovak border," Miklos Merenyi, a spokesperson for Hungary's economy ministry which controls air traffic, told Reuters.

Telkibanya is 250km from the Hungarian capital Budapest.

Both Hungarian and Slovak troops conducted the search for survivors.

"There are three units of (Hungarian) soldiers, altogether 100, who are using night vision equipment and they are trying to find survivors and the corpses," Hungarian government spokesperson Andras Batiz said.

The Hungarian Disaster Management Agency said the aircraft, had crashed in an uninhabited area and that it had been on fire.

Hungarian officials said conditions for the rescue operation were very difficult and helicopters could not land, hampering efforts to ascertain the cause of the crash.

"We have yet to inspect the scene, after that we can look at the radar pictures and listen to the radio conversation between the aircraft and (air traffic) control," Erika Bajko, a spokesman for the Hungarian Transport Safety Bureau, told Reuters.

Additional reporting by Krisztina Than and Sandor Peto in Budapest, Martin Santa in Bratislava and Matthew Robinson in Pristina

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