Sixteen killed as plane carrying skydivers crashes in central Russia

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A plane carrying skydivers has crashed shortly after take off in central Russia on Sunday, killing 16 people and injuring six, the Emergencies Ministry said.

The aircraft had 20 parachutists and two crew members on board when it came down near the city of Menzelinsk, some 600 miles east of Moscow.

Six people were pulled alive from the wreckage and remain in a serious condition, the Health Ministry said.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known. The RIA agency cited local authorities as saying one of the engines could have failed.

Photographs of some of the parachutists on board posing in the gear or with a plane were circulated on the REN TV channel and on social media.

The L-410, a Czech-made twin-engine short-range transport aircraft, was owned by an aeroclub in the city of Menzelinsk, the TASS news agency reported.

The state-run Cosmonaut Training Facility has suspended its ties with the aeroclub pending an investigation, according to a source cited by TASS.

Russian aviation safety standards have been strengthened in recent years but accidents continue to happen, particularly in remote regions.

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