Rescuers work at the site of a plane crash near the airport in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Friday. The crash of a Bek Air Fokker 100 killed at least 12 people, authorities said. Photo by Eduard Galeev/Almaty International Airport-Press Service/EPA-EFE
Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Investigators have found the flight recorders from a Bek Air jetliner that crashed in Kazakhstan Friday after taking off from an Almaty airport, government officials said.
The Fokker 100 aircraft with 98 people on board crashed into an unoccupied apartment building shortly after takeoff, killing at least 12 people and injuring 53, including nine children, authorities said.
Kazakhstan's interior ministry said eight people died at the scene, two died while en route to the hospital and two died at the hospital. Seventeen of the injured were listed in critical condition.
Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister Roman Sklyar said the plane's "black boxes" -- the flight data and cockpit voice recorders -- have been located at the crash site.
"Rescue works at the crash site are ongoing. An investigation is underway," he told reporters. "The flight data recorders have been found and will be analyzed."
Bek Air flight Z2100 was headed to Nur-Sultan when it dropped from radar about 20 seconds into the flight. Investigators have not yet indicated a primary cause of the crash.
Sixteen ambulances, dozens of brigades and two neurosurgical teams were involved in the response at the airport, officials said, and specialists flew in to aid the victims.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin sent a telegram on behalf of Pope Francis.
"Having learned with sadness of the recent plane crash in Almaty, His Holiness Pope Francis sends his condolences to all those affected by this tragedy," it read. "He prays especially for the eternal repose of the deceased and for the healing of those injured. Upon all, especially those involved in the rescue and recovery efforts, His Holiness invokes the strength and peace of Almighty God."
Russian President Vladimir Putin told Kazakh leader Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, "Russia shares the grief of those who lost their relatives and close friends and hopes that injured will make a speedy recovery."
Tokayev has ordered a government investigative commission to be chaired by Prime Minister Askar Mamin. Kazakh aviation officials suspended Bek Air operations and all Fokker 100 flights nationwide pending the outcome of the inquiry.