A Russian military transport plane took off from an airfield outside Moscow on Wednesday and headed for the United States with a load of medical equipment and masks to help Washington fight the coronavirus pandemic.
President Vladimir Putin offered Russian help in a phone conversation with President Donald Trump on Monday, when the two leaders discussed how best to respond to the virus.
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The flight, which was organised by the Russian defence ministry, is likely to be unpopular with some critics of Trump who have urged him to keep his distance from Putin and who argue that Moscow uses such aid as a geopolitical and propaganda tool to advance its influence, something the Kremlin denies.
“Trump gratefully accepted this humanitarian aid,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was cited as saying by the Interfax news agency on Tuesday night. Trump himself spoke enthusiastically about the Russian help after his call with Putin.
Russia’s Rossiya 24 channel on Wednesday showed the plane taking off from a military airbase outside Moscow in darkness. Its cargo hold was filled with cardboard boxes and other packages.
Confirmed US cases have surged to 189,000 and 4,000 people have already died there from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
Russia’s official tally of coronavirus cases rose to 2,777 on Wednesday, a one-day increase of 440. Twenty-four people have so far died, authorities say. Some doctors have questioned the accuracy of the figure given.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have been strained in recent years by everything from Syria to Ukraine to election interference, something Russia denies.
Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said Moscow hoped the US might also be able to provide medical help to Russia if necessary when the time comes.
“It is important to note that when offering assistance to US colleagues, the president assumes that when US manufacturers of medical equipment and materials gain momentum, they will also be able to reciprocate if necessary,” Peskov was cited as saying.
Peskov, who complained about difficulties expediting the aid to the US thrown up by some US officials, said Russia and China cooperated in a similar way because “at a time when the current situation affects everyone without exception … there is no alternative to working together in a spirit of partnership and mutual assistance”.
Trump said earlier this week: “Russia sent us a very, very large planeload of things, medical equipment, which was very nice.”
Russia has also used its military to send planeloads of aid to Italy to combat the spread of the coronavirus, exposing the European Union’s failure to provide swift help to a member in crisis and handing Putin a publicity coup at home and abroad.
Moscow said the aid for Italy included some 100 virus specialists with experience in dealing with Ebola and swine fever, but Italian media have reported much of it was not useful in the fight against the virus.
Last month, Russia said it sent nearly 1,000 coronavirus testing kits to former Soviet states and countries including Iran and North Korea.
Authorities in Moscow unveiled a smartphone app designed to keep tabs on people who have been ordered to stay at home because of the coronavirus, and Russia on Wednesday expanded its lockdown to cover more of its sprawling territory.
The app is still in the testing phase, an official, Eduard Lysenko, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station.
Moscow is also preparing to roll out a city-wide QR-code system where each resident who registers online will be assigned a unique code they can show to police officers if stopped when going to the shops or the pharmacy, said Lysenko.
Eight southern Russian regions rolled out similar lockdown measures to Moscow on Wednesday, meaning more than 60 of Russia’s more than 80 regions are now in a state of partial lockdown.
U.S. Air Force plane crashes into North Sea
A pair of F-15C Eagles from the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, in Japan, take off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage, Alaska, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, while participating in Northern Edge, a joint training exercise. (Bill Roth/Alaska Dispatch … more > By – Associated Press – Updated: 6:24 a.m. on Monday, June 15,…
A pair of F-15C Eagles from the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, in Japan, take off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage, Alaska, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, while participating in Northern Edge, a joint training exercise. (Bill Roth/Alaska Dispatch … more>
Updated: 6:24 a.m. on
Monday, June 15, 2020
LONDON (AP) — A U.S. Air Force fighter plane with one pilot on board crashed into the North Sea on Monday. The status of the pilot wasn’t known.
The F-15C Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing was on a routine training mission from RAF Lakenheath when it crashed at 9:40 a.m. local time (4:40 a.m. EDT).
U.K. search and rescue authorities are taking part in the search of the crash site.
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Pakistan plane crash: Survivor gives harrowing account of disaster
- One of only two survivors from a devastating plane crash in Pakistan, which killed almost 100 people Friday, gave a harrowing account of the disaster.
- “All I could see was fire. I couldn’t see any people – just hear their screams,” Muhammad Zubair told Pakistani news.
- Zubair recalled the plane jolting aggressively before the disaster, and then feeling a “hard crash” and losing consciousness.
- The plane, an Airbus A320, was operated by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and crashed near Jinnah International Airport in Karachi as it tried to land.
- There were 98 people on board and only two survived. One was Zubair, and the other was Zafar Masud, the CEO of one of Pakistan’s biggest banks.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
One of only two survivors from a devastating plane crash in Pakistan,which killed almost 100 people Friday, gave a harrowing account of the experience of being involved in the disaster, saying he could see nothing but fire after the crash.
The plane, an Airbus A320, was operated by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and crashed near Jinnah International Airport in Karachi as it tried to land.
A spokesman from the civil aviation authority told the Associated Press that the death toll was 98, including 91 passengers and seven crew.
All but two of those on board were killed in the crash, with one, Muhammad Zubair giving an account of what happened to him to Pakistani TV channel Geo News.
Zubair told the channel that shortly before crashing, the plane began to jolt aggressively. “The next moment there was a hard crash and I lost consciousness,” he said on a show hosted by anchor Shahzeb Khanzada.
Before the incident, he said there was no indication that there was anything wrong. “The way things were handled, it seemed we would just make a routine landing,” he told Geo News.
The plane then hit the runway before lurching upwards, Zubair said. At that point: “People began to pray fervently.”
When he came round, Zubair said, all he could see was “smoke and fire.”
“I could hear screams from all directions. Kids and adults. All I could see was fire. I couldn’t see any people – just hear their screams.”
After the crash, Zubair said he followed a small beam of light to try and escape the plane before jumping to the ground.
“I opened my seat belt and saw some light. I went towards the light. I had to jump down about 10 feet to get to safety.”
Alongside Zubair, the only other passenger to survive was Zafar Masud, the CEO of Bank of Punjab, one of Pakistan’s biggest retail banks. Masud is yet to comment publicly on his involvement in the crash, but Geo News reports that his “condition is out of danger.”
Before the crash, a pilot on board the flight had radioed air traffic control to report that both engines had failed, Business Insider’s Bill Bostock reported.
“We have lost two engines. Mayday, mayday, mayday,” the pilot can be heard saying in audio published by Live ATC, a website which gives access to air traffic control radio transmissions.
Karachi plane crash: Black box recovered, says airline |NationalTribune.com
The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been recovered from the site of a plane crash that killed at least 97 passengers and crew members in the Pakistani city of Karachi. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-8303 was flying from Lahore to Karachi when it went down around 09:45 GMT on Friday. The Airbus…
The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been recovered from the site of a plane crash that killed at least 97 passengers and crew members in the Pakistani city of Karachi.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-8303 was flying from Lahore to Karachi when it went down around 09:45 GMT on Friday. The Airbus A320, which had 99 people aboard, crashed into a crowded residential district of the southern city after twice trying to land at the airport.
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“The black box had been found late yesterday, we are handing it over to the inquiry board,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan said on Saturday, clarifying both the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were located.
Health ministry spokeswoman Meeran Yousuf told Al Jazeera by telephone that 66 bodies were kept at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi’s largest government hospital, and 31 at Civil Hospital Karachi, another leading state-run hospital.
Two male passengers survived the crash.
“After it hit and I regained consciousness, I saw fire everywhere and no one was visible,” passenger Mohammad Zubair, 24, said from his hospital bed in a video clip circulated on social media.
“The cries were everywhere and everybody was trying to survive. I undid my seat belt and I saw some light and tried to walk towards it. Then I jumped out.”
Zubair suffered burns but was in a stable condition, a health ministry official said. The airline named the other survivor as the president of the Bank of Punjab, Zafar Masud.
Dozens killed in Pakistan passenger plane crash (3:34)
Seconds before the crash, the pilot told air traffic controllers he had lost power from both engines, according to a recording posted on liveatc.net, a respected aviation monitoring website.
“Our plane [an Airbus] A320 which was coming from Lahore to Karachi was on final approach,” said PIA chief Arshad Malik in a video message released after the crash.
“The last words we heard from our pilot were that there is a technical problem and he was told on final approach that he has both runways available to him to land on. But the pilot decided that he wanted to go around.”
The plane then rapidly lost altitude and crashed short of the runway into the Model Colony neighbourhood, witnesses told local media.
Dense plumes of black smoke rose above houses in the narrow streets of the neighbourhood, with television footage showing several buildings crushed from the impact of the aircraft.
Parts of the plane, including the emergency exit door, were strewn in the streets.
Airbus said the jet first flew in 2004 and was fitted with engines built by CFM International, co-owned by General Electric and France’s Safran.
Worst air disaster in years
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan announced soon after the crash that there would be an inquiry,
The country only last week resumed domestic flights it had suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, with many people travelling for the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
This year’s holiday is expected to fall on Sunday or Monday in the country, subject to the sighting of the moon.
Friday’s crash is the worst air disaster in Pakistan since 2012, when a Bhoja Air passenger aircraft, a Boeing 737, crashed in the capital, Islamabad, killing 127 people.
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