A firefighting plane that was battling a forest fire in southern Turkey's Kahramanmaraş province, crashed Saturday.
The plane, a Beriev Be-200 Altair aircraft which was rented by the General Directorate of Forestry from Russia, was in the service of the Regional Directorate of Forestry in Adana when it responded to a forest fire in Kahramanmaraş.
A large number of search and rescue teams were dispatched to the area.
All of the Turkish and Russian crew members on board died in the plane crash, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said.
"I am deeply saddened," Çavuşoğlu wrote on Twitter, and also offered his condolences to Russia.
"Their heroic sacrifice will not be forgotten," Çavuşoğlu added. He did not state the number of people who had died.
"The five crew members of the Russian Be-200 aircraft that crashed in the Republic of Turkey and three citizens of the Republic of Turkey who were pointing out fire locations have been killed," the Russian Defence Ministry confirmed to reporters Saturday, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
Ömer Faruk Coşkun, Kahramanmaraş governor, said that a fire had broken out in the forest area in the Ilıca Mahallesi Almalı location of the Onikişubat district as a result of a lightning strike.
Coşkun noted that firefighters responded to the fire both from land and air.
"We also sent a plane to the region, but contact with the plane was lost a while ago and it crashed. The incident is very new right now. We sent many teams to the area where the plane crashed," Coşkun told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Coşkun noted that the plane crashed in Kısık Valley of Beşen neighborhood.
Russian Defense Ministry released a written statement about the incident.
“The Be-200 airplane crashed near Adana during landing. A team has been sent to the crash site to investigate the incident,” the statement read. “Aboard the Be-200 there were five officials from the Russian army and three Turkish representatives.”
Meanwhile, the plane's efforts to put out the fire and the moments of its crash were captured by onlookers and circulated online.
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