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Spain minister to visit crash site

crash site
The pilot had abandoned two previous attempts at landing due to thick fog.

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Turkish officials say no-one survived the crash.
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ANKARA, Turkey (CNN) -- Spanish Defense Minister Federico Trillo is expected to arrive later Monday at the site in northeast Turkey where 62 Spanish peacekeepers and 12 crew members died after their plane crashed in heavy fog.

Trillo is traveling with Spanish military investigators and medical personnel, who will look for clues to the cause of the crash -- the biggest single-day military loss of life since Spain's transition to democracy in 1975.

On board the Ukrainian-chartered transport plane were 40 Spanish soldiers, as well as 21 members of the country's air force and one from Spain's para-military Civil Guard, the Spanish Defense Ministry said.

The 12 crew members were all Ukrainian nationals, according to an official at the Spanish Embassy in Turkey.

Many of the Spanish peacekeepers were returning from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan, the Defense Ministry said, while others had been on missions in Kirguizistan.

The plane went down at around 4:50 a.m. local time (0150 GMT) near the mountainous town of Macka, 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the Black Sea port of Trabzon, Turkish rescue officials said.

The pilot was attempting to make a scheduled refueling stop at Trabzon airport about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the crash site and had aborted two previous landing attempts due to fog, the rescue officials said.

"The plane was trying to land because of strong turbulence that resulted from the bad weather conditions," the Spanish Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Turkish television network IHA showed the charred and smoldering debris of the Yakovlev airliner scattered along a hillside -- part of a landing gear and a large section of the tail were clearly visible.

Medical teams, as well as military troops, were at the scene of the accident.

The plane, a Ukranian Yakolev-42, was operated by NATO's Maintenance and Supply Agency. (Full story)

The agency is typically involved in long-distance troop transport by nations involved in international peacekeeping missions, the Spanish Defense Ministry said in its statement.


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