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A Kyrgyz passenger plane bound for Tehran crashed near the capital,
A Kyrgyz passenger plane bound for Tehran crashed near the capital, Bishkek, killing 68 people, while another 22 survived, the country's health ministry said on Monday.

The crash occurred on Sunday when the crew reported a technical malfunction soon after takeoff and the plane was returning to Manas, Bishkek's international airport. The Boeing-737 crashed and burst into flames just two kilometers away from Manas.

The plane was carrying 83 passengers, including 17 teenagers from a high school sports team, seven of whom survived, and a number of foreign nationals, mainly Iranians, as well as Kazakhs, Canadians, Chinese, and Turks. It is believed that 52 of the dead are Iranian nationals.

Twenty two people were taken to hospital in Bishkek. Four people were given medical treatment and later discharged.

The plane's seven crew members, including the pilot, were among the survivors, Kyrgyz presidential adviser Tokon Mamytov said.

Kyrgyz authorities said cabin decompression, a fault in the flight control system or engine failure, were among the possible causes of the crash.

Media reports said two prominent U.S. basketball players from the NBA, Rebecca Bonner and Samuel Perkins, may have been on the plane as part of an international sporting initiative. However, the U.S. embassy in Bishkek has not confirmed the information.

Transport Minister Nurlan Sulaimanov dismissed on Monday the possibility of a terrorist attack. "Categorically, this was no terrorist attack," Sulaimanov said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed his condolences to his Kyrgyz counterpart, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, following the tragedy.


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