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Death toll in Yemen military aircraft crash rises to at least 11

The Russian SU-22 ground attack aircraft was on training mission when it hit a five-storey building in the densely populated district of Ziraah.

A fireman reacts as he works at the site of a military aircraft crash in Sanaa that killed at least 11 people on Tuesday. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters
A fireman reacts as he works at the site of a military aircraft crash in Sanaa that killed at least 11 people on Tuesday. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

SANAA // A Yemeni military aircraft crashed yesterday into a neighborhood in the country's capital, killing at least 11 people and injuring 10, defence officials said.

Among the dead were the pilot and crew as well as eight civilians, including four children. Other bodies may still be buried in the wreckage, said Mohammed Al Mawry, a spokesman with the interior ministry.

The Russian SU-22 ground attack aircraft was on training mission when it hit a five-storey building in the densely populated district of Ziraah inside Change Square, used as a rallying point for youth activists who have been camping there for more than two years calling for political and military reforms.

A series of loud explosions were heard and thick black smoke billowed from the burning wreckage of the aircraft for hours as residents gathered.

"Flames were seen at the crash site and at nearby streets and the scene was very horrible," said Ali AbdulGhani, 32, who lives near the crash site.

Sara Al Magrani was heading home from university when she heard the crash.

"I thought a missile hit Sanaa. The windows of nearby apartments shook and I could feel the impact of the explosion reverberating through the ground," she said. Ms Al Magrani said she saw seven bodies taken by ambulance from the site.

There has been no government statement issued on the crash but Mohammed Al Makaleh, a defence ministry official, denied the plane was targeted.

"The crash is a result of a mechanical fault and the jet was not shot down," he said. Another official said that president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi had ordered an investigation.

The crash was the second in four months in Sanaa. Last November, a small military cargo plane on a training mission crashed near a public market in the Yemeni capital killing all 10 passengers. The plane caught fire shortly after taking off from Sanaa International Airport.

The incident triggered public anger and raised questions about the involvement of former and current politicians given the country's persistent political unrest.

On Friday, the council warned that Yemen's former president Ali Saleh could face possible sanctions if he continues disrupting the country's political progress. The report singled out the former president and stressed the council would consider non-military sanctions if the interference continued.

 

foreign.desk@thenational.ae