Missing Azerbaijani plane with 23 aboard has crashed

An &to=http://english.pravda.ru/cis/2002/07/23/32997.html' target=_blank>Azerbaijan Airlines passenger plane with 23 people aboard that went missing late Friday has crashed, the ITAR-Tass news agency cited a source as saying.

The plane disappeared from radar shortly after takeoff from the airport in the capital, Baku, en route to the Kazakh city of Aktau on the other side of the Caspian Sea, two airport employees told The Associated Press.

Both said there were 18 passengers aboard and one said there were an additional five crew members. The employees spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak officially, and said they could confirm only that the plane was missing.

The plane was identified as an An-140, a twin-engine turboprop.

An Azerbaijani coast guard official, who also declined to be identified, said an operations center had been set up in an area about 20 kilometers (12) north of Baku, suggesting the plane was believed to have plunged into the sea.

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