x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dubai crew die in Iraq plane crash

A cargo aircraft operated by a Dubai-based company crashes in Iraq, killing all seven people on board.

DUBAI // All seven crew members of a civilian cargo aircraft based in the UAE were killed when their plane crashed in western Iraq. The US military said the plane took off from Al Asad air base near Fallujah, in Anbar province, on Thursday morning and lost radio contact at 10.45am. The Ukrainian-built AN12, which was carrying FedEx cargo to Baghdad International Airport, is believed to have crashed less than an hour later. "It looks like everybody was lost," said a US military spokesman, Capt Charles Calio, who added that hostile fire had been ruled out as the cause of the accident. The US military said the likely cause was mechanical failure or pilot error, although Capt Calio added that this was for the investigation to determine. Major Hussein al Dulaimy, from the Iraqi police in Anbar, said the aircraft burst into flames when it hit the ground. Six of the crew worked for a company called British Gulf International, which owned and operated the aircraft, and has its headquarters in Sharjah with offices in Dubai. The seventh was identified as Jaychandran Appukutten, 44, a married Indian man with two young children who worked for Dubai-based Falcon Aviation Group, which was transporting cargo on the plane. A friend of Mr Appukutten, who declined to be named, said: "The family is still waiting for any news of the body. We know that the flight has been located but not the bodies. "We do not know what caused the accident. The family is shattered by the news." Mr Appukutten lived in Dubai for 13 years and was employed by Falcon Aviation as a load master, monitoring the loading of cargo. On its website, Falcon Aviation says it operates cargo flights in the Gulf region for FedEx and other firms, including trips to Al Asad, which is under US control. FedEx, based in Tennessee, said it was monitoring the situation and working with the cargo company on the investigation. * With the Associated Press and Reuters pmenon@thenational.ae