Plane crashes in eastern Turkey; seven security personnel dead

ANKARA, TURKEY (AP) — A small plane belonging to Turkey’s police force has crashed into a mountain in eastern Turkey, killing seven security personnel on board, Turkey’s Interior Minister said yesterday.

The plane was returning from a surveillance and reconnaissance mission late Wednesday, when it crashed into Mount Artos at an altitude of 2,200 metres, Suleyman Soylu told reporters. The mountain, a dormant volcano, is situated in Van province, near the border with Iran.

The minister, who travelled to the region to oversee the recovery operation, said the plane disappeared from the radar on its way back to Van’s Ferit Melen Airport. The plane’s wreckage was found at around 3am, he said. All on board, including the two pilots, were members of the national police.

The cause of the crash was under investigation, Soylu said.

The plane was on a surveillance mission over Van and the neighbouring, mostly Kurdish-populated province of Hakkari, which lies farther south and borders both Iran and Iraq.

Turkish security forces are engaged in operations against rebels belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the region, but it was not immediately clear if the surveillance mission was linked to security operations against the militant group.

Members of search teams work at the site of a plane crash on a remote location in Van, eastern Turkey. PHOTO: AP