An Antonov-2 airplane belonging to the Boboc Air Force Training School crashed on Monday around 5.40 PM on the Tuzla airdrome in Constanta County while on a paratrooper training flight. Nicolae Jianu, commander of the Training School, was among those killed.
The Ministry of Defence announced on Tuesday that four Air Force troops and eight Navy troops were killed in the air tragedy that took place on Monday evening in Tuzla.
The death toll stands at 12 dead and 2 injured after one of the three injured soldiers died late Monday night within the Central Military Hospital in Bucharest. According to the MoD, apart from Commander Nicolae Jianu, a wing commander, two lieutenants (one of which was a woman), four warrant officers, three privates first class and one private were also killed in the air crash in Tuzla, the worst air crash in Romania in the last 15 years.
According to the aforementioned source, the two injured soldiers, a captain and a warrant officer, were in stable condition yesterday morning, being hospitalized at the Military Hospital where they are undergoing supplementary checkups and treatment. It has to be said that at first the MoD announced that only 13 persons were onboard the airplane, later being discovered that there were in fact 14 persons onboard.
The An-2 airplane that crashed in Tuzla belonged to the Boboc Air Force Training School and was on a paratrooper training flight. According to the MoD, the airplane suddenly lost altitude shortly after taking off and crashed. The airplane caught fire on impact. The fire was put out at 6.15 PM. 11 dead bodies and three seriously injured persons were found at the scene. The three were immediately taken to the Constanta County hospital from where they were flown to Bucharest. One of those injured had three and four degree burns on 80 per cent of his body and died despite the doctors’ efforts to resuscitate him. The other two have multiple fractures and spine injuries but fortunately their chances of survival are high. The first hours after the accident it was pretty unclear what the circumstances were that lead to the three being saved, speculations in the media had it that they jumped off the craft, which was virtually impossible. “The three initial survivors were taken off the plane by another person immediately after the crash,” Gen. Victor Strambeanu of the aerial forces said yesterday following preliminary conclusions of the investigation. “No one jumped, the altitude wouldn’t allow them. There was a real life hero who entered the burning plane and saved lives, as much as he could. He was a former marine. His name is Marian Marin and he was not aboard,” Gen. Strambeanu also said.
The crash is investigated by military prosecutors from the Supreme Court’s Prosecutor’s Office and by a technical investigation commission set up by the MoD. A preliminary report following the Tuzla aircraft crash will be ready in 30 days, authorities inform. Three possible causes are presented however: the human error, the weather and a technical factor.
Worst accident in 15 years
The Russian-made An-2 airplane that crashed in Tuzla had entered the Romanian Air Force in 1977. According to the description posted on the Air Force’s website, the plane had a maximum take off weight of 5,500 kilograms, a capacity of 10 passengers, a crew of three, a length of 12.7 meters and a wingspan of 18.2 meters. The An-2, known as the largest biplane used for transport, was designed for various uses. An-2s are highly used for spraying insecticides and fertilizers in agriculture. Likewise, 6 or 8-seater An-2s are used for VIP flights. The Romanian Air Force currently uses An-2s for training paratroopers. The tragedy in Tuzla is the worst air accident in Romania in the last 15 years. On March 31, 1995, an Airbus flying towards Brussels crashed in Balotesti shortly after taking off from the Henri Coanda airport. 60 people (all passengers and crewmembers) lost their lives. The official causes of the accident were an engine problem, a possible medical problem that incapacitated the pilot and the co-pilot’s insufficient input given this context.
President Traian Basescu and Premier Emil Boc have expressed their condolences for the bereaved families. “We have received with profound sorrow the news of the air catastrophe that took place on the Tuzla airdrome, a catastrophe in which 11 soldiers lost their lives. In these grievous moments I express my solidarity with the families of the soldiers that lost their lives in this catastrophe and I send them my sincere condolences. May God rest their souls,” Traian Basescu’s message reads on the Presidency’s website. “I found out with profound regret about the tragic air accident that took place on the Tuzla airdrome, an accident in which many soldiers lost their lives and in which others were injured while on a paratrooper training flight. This is a painful price we pay for national defense missions and I am profoundly saddened that we lost brave defenders of Romania, defenders to whose memory I render homage,” the Premier stated in a message to the press. France’s envoy Henri Paul has also sent his own condolences to the victims’ families: “We have been deeply saddened by the plane crash that killed 12 militaries and crew members. In these painful moments, I would like to send the victims’ families my compassion and sincere condolences,” reads a release from the French Embassy.