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Tue 18 Nov 2008 02:37 PM

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'Catastrophic' incident caused Iraq cargo plane crash

Source close to Dubai-based Falcon Aviation Group reveals details of crash in Iraq.

The investigation into the cargo plane crash in Iraq is still ongoing and it will likely be six months to a year before the probe is concluded, a source close to the Dubai-based company operating the plane told Arabian Business on Tuesday.The plane, operated by Falcon Aviation Group and carrying FedEx cargo, crashed in western Iraq on Thursday on route to the Baghdad, killing all seven people on board.

The source said the plane went down between 0824 GMT and 0835 GMT around 30-35 minutes into the flight to the Iraqi capital from Al-Asad Airbase. Previous reports said the plane crashed shortly after takeoff.

The crash site is about 30 miles southwest of Baghdad and 12 miles southeast of Al-Taqaddum Airbase, he said. Search and rescue teams were dispatched around 15 minutes after the crash, he added.

The source would not be drawn on what might have caused the crash, but described the plane, a Ukrainian-built AN-12, as "very durable aircraft" and said "something catastrophic" must have happened to cause the crash.

He said the plane was charter and was not owned by Falcon.

Only one of the seven dead was employed by Falcon. The source said the body of the deceased, an Indian national, would be repatriated in the next two to three days.

"We are dealing with the human element at the moment. These things are important now and the other things can wait," he said.

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