Moment ‘Russian-made’ transport plane skids off runway in Africa and explodes in a giant fireball amid suspicions the plane was linked to Wagner
- Soviet-designed Il-76 crashed in Mali, where Wagner troops are stationed
This is the dramatic moment a giant Russian-made transport plane skidded off a runway in Africa and exploded in a fireball, amid suspicions the plane was linked to the Wagner Army.
The Il-76 plane burst into flames in Mali – where Wagner’s troops are based – just weeks after the private mercenary group’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was killed in an exploding business jet near Moscow.
The Ilyushin was captured during the film landing in Gao, but failed to come to a stop and quickly turned into a raging inferno. It was reported that the plane’s Russian pilot had died.
Images show the stricken plane on fire with large plumes of black smoke billowing into the air.
Some reports had linked the flight to the controversial Wagner mercenary army operating in Mali and while this was denied, the possibility was left open that the paramilitary group was linked to the plane.
The ‘Russian-made’ Il-76 plane landed in Mali, but then flew off the runway and exploded
This is the dramatic moment the plane exploded in a huge fireball after crashing in Gao, Mali
Images show the stricken plane on fire with large plumes of black smoke billowing into the air
Dambiev’s pre-war Telegram channel said the crashed Il-76 was operated by a company from Belarus – a close Russian ally. The company is called Ruby Star Airways and has its headquarters in Minsk. In the photo: an Il-76 cargo plane of the Belarusian airline ‘Ruby Star’
The number of casualties has not yet been determined, but it is feared that there may have been 140 passengers on board.
The footage apparently dispels reports that the plane was shot out of the sky by a man-portable air defense system.
It is clear that the plane landed too far down the 2,500-meter runway. It failed to brake within 500 meters, overshot the runway and exploded in a massive inferno.
Sources close to Wagner have denied that the Russian mercenary group was involved in the flight, even though their forces are active in the African country. It did not rule out the possibility that Wagner was linked to the plane.
The plane was used by the Malian military, according to the Gray Zone Telegram channel, which is close to Wagner.
“This aircraft, or rather the flight, was not carrying personnel from the Wagner group,” the channel said.
Previously it said: ‘There were no fighter planes or pilots from the Wagner group on board.’
It was close to Gao airport, a city on the front lines of the country’s long-running armed conflict
The plane (pictured on fire) was used by the Malian military, according to the Gray Zone Telegram channel, which is close to Wagner
Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of private military contractor Wagner Group, looks from a military vehicle before his death in June
Mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, and his top lieutenants were among 10 people killed in the crash northwest of the Russian capital in August
The crash took place on Saturday, but new images have emerged of the moment the plane exploded.
Gao is a city on the front lines of the country’s long-running armed conflict.
The crash came one month to the day after Wagner’s billionaire boss Prigozhin – once a close ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin – was killed when his Embraer Legacy 600 plane crashed near Moscow.
An explosion on the plane was suspected, and there were unsubstantiated claims that Prigozhin had been killed on Putin’s orders.
Dambiev’s pre-war Telegram channel said the crashed Il-76 was operated by a company from Belarus – a close Russian ally.
The company is called Ruby Star Airways and has its headquarters in Minsk.
After a failed coup in Russia in June led by Prigozhin, a number of Wagner troops were sent to Belarus.