Istanbul, 14 August 2021 (dpa/MIA) – All of the Turkish and Russian crew members onboard a firefighting plane rented from Russia died after the plane crashed in southern Turkey on Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
“I am deeply saddened,” Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter, and also offered his condolences to Russia.
“Their heroic sacrifice will not be forgotten,” Cavusoglu 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 on Saturday, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
The plane crashed while working to extinguish a wildfire in the Onikisubat district of the Kahramanmaras province in southern Turkey near the border with Syria, according to Turkish state news agency Anadolu.
The cause of the accident was not immediately clear.
Russian investigators were already on their way to the crash site on Saturday, according to TASS.
Aerial footage from Anadolu showed fire and smoke rising from in a mountainous area, and what is believed to be the remains of the plane.
A plane and a helicopter were dispatched to join rescue efforts at the scene of the accident, the Turkish Defence Ministry said in a tweet.
Turkey has been battling nearly 300 wildfires nationwide since July, in what the government has called the worst such disaster in the country’s history.
The fires, which hit the Mediterranean coast particularly hard, have largely been contained, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
Several countries, including Russia, Spain and Qatar, sent firefighting planes to assist Turkey in efforts to contain the fires.