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Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 23:18 GMT
Azerbaijan plane crash 'kills 23'
An Azerbaijan Airlines passenger plane has crashed after taking off from the Azeri capital, Baku, killing all 23 people on board, officials say.

The aircraft was heading to Aktau in Kazakhstan across the Caspian Sea with 18 passengers and five crew on board.

A police spokesman said that wreckage was found along the Caspian coast, but there was no evidence of survivors.

Russia's Ria news agency said the plane took off at 2119 (1819 GMT) but fell off radar screens 20 minutes later.

It is reported to have come down near the village of Kyurdakhany, about 15km (10 miles) from Baku, Ria said.

The Associated Press news agency described the plane as an An-140 twin engine turboprop.

A police spokesman, who gave his name as Kadykov, told Reuters news agency: "The plane has crashed, 23 people on board are dead.

An operations centre was set up near the Caspian coastline some 20km (13 miles) north of Baku, AP reported.

A doctor at a hospital in Baku said that two bodies were recovered from the suspected crash site.

Baku and Akmau are centres of the Caspian Sea oil industry.

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