Kazakh military plane crashes, all 27 on board killed

Updated 26 December 2012
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Kazakh military plane crashes, all 27 on board killed

ALMATY: A military transport plane crashed in southern Kazakhstan on Tuesday, killing all 27 people on board, including the commander of the Central Asian nation’s border guards, local media and the KNB security service said.
The twin-engine Antonov An-72 jet disappeared from radar screens at about 1900 local time (1300 GMT) as it was making a descent near the city of Shymkent, the capital of the South Kazakhstan Region.
Kazakhstan’s Channel 7 television showed early footage of charred and mangled fragments of the airplane scattered around a cordoned off area in a raging blizzard.
Kazakhstan’s KNB security service said the plane, bound for Shymkent from the capital Astana, belonged to its border troops.
The commander of the country’s border guards, Turganbek Stambekov, was among those on board, it said on its site (www.knb.kz). The plane was carrying a crew of seven as well as 20 servicemen.
The passengers also included senior border guard officers from southern Kazakhstan. The border guards had been due to make a stopover in Shymkent and then fly to the Uzbek capital Tashkent for talks with Uzbek colleagues, local media said.
The plane plunged to the ground in bad weather from an altitude of about 800 meters as it was making a fourth circle, trying to land, Kazakh television channels said.
KTK channel broadcast footage of an eyewitness saying he had heard a loud explosion and had seen flames at the crash site.
Quoting Kazakh air traffic controllers, Channel 7 said the plane had crashed into an open-cast mine some 21 km (13 miles) from Shymkent, and rescue teams could not immediately reach the crash site.


Indian police face fury over shooting deaths of 10 protesters

Updated 59 min 44 sec ago
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Indian police face fury over shooting deaths of 10 protesters

CHENNAI: Outrage swelled Wednesday over the deaths of 10 protesters at a rally over a copper plant in southern India, after police opened fire on demonstrators in what critics termed “mass murder.”
Violence erupted Tuesday in Tamil Nadu state at a long-running demonstration demanding the closure of the smelting plant owned by British mining giant Vedanta Resources which residents say is causing environmental damage.
The state’s chief minister has ordered a judicial inquiry into the shootings but the move failed to stem rising anger over the clashes, which also left about 80 wounded.
M.K. Stalin, leader of the main Tamil Nadu opposition party the DMK, said police were guilty of “atrocities.”
“Mass Murder of Innocent People,” he tweeted Wednesday. “Who ordered the police firing on protesters? Why were automatic weapons used to disperse the crowd and under what law is this permitted?“
A video of a police officer on top of a bus and pointing an assault rifle at crowds has fueled fresh anger.
Rahul Gandhi, the national leader of the opposition Congress party, has called the deaths “a brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism.”
“These citizens were murdered for protesting against injustice,” he said.
Police said Tuesday that 12 people had died but later revised the toll in the port city of Tuticorin.
P. Mahendran, superintendent of Tuticorin district police, said 18 officers were also wounded in the clashes.
“The situation is tense but under control today,” he said. “The post mortem on the bodies is being conducted and they will be handed over to families today.”
The plant, about 600 kilometers (375 miles) south of Tamil Nadu’s state capital Chennai, is currently closed as Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper subsidiary seeks a new license so it can be expanded.
The protesters had set ablaze the local administrator’s office after they were denied permission to hold a rally at the plant.
Police said efforts to disperse the crowd of several thousand with a baton charge and tear gas volleys failed before authorities used live ammunition.
Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami ordered the judicial inquiry into the shootings but defended the police.
“The police had to take action under unavoidable circumstances to protect public life and property as the protesters resorted to repeated violence,” he said.
The families of each victim would be offered one million rupees ($14,700) compensation, he added.
The deaths came on the 100th day of demonstrations against the plant, which environmentalists and residents claim is contaminating water sources — a charge the company denies.
The protests intensified after Vedanta, owned by an Indian billionaire but with its head office in London, sought to double the 400,000-ton annual capacity of the plant.
It was shut briefly after an alleged gas leak in March 2013 that left hundreds with breathing difficulties, nausea and throat infections.
The company maintains that it adheres to environmental standards and said it was the victim of “false propaganda” about its operations.
Tamil Nadu is one of India’s most industrialized and prosperous states and similar protests over environmental concerns have turned deadly in the past.
Tuticorin witnessed violent demonstrations in 2012 over a nuclear power plant in neighboring Kudankulam district that left one person dead.