Sri Lanka Air Force plane crashes killing four

A Sri Lankan military transport aircraft crashed near the capital Colombo on Friday killing four people aboard and wounding another crew member, police said.

The Antonov AN-32 aircraft slammed into a rubber plantation in the suburb of Athurugiriya in bad weather and burst into flames, police spokesman Ajith Rohana said.

"Four people onboard have been killed and the fifth crew member survived with severe burns," Rohana told AFP.

Airforce sources said the plane had taken off from the main international airport outside Colombo and headed to a nearby domestic air base when pilots reported poor visibility.

There were no casualties on the ground, but at least one house lost part of its roof as the aircraft crashed into the rubber plantation.

Civil aviation chief H. M. Nimalasiri said it was too early to establish the cause of the crash, but investigators were heading to the crash site.

The Sri Lankan airforce has lost four other Antonov AN-32 type aircraft since 1995.

During the height of fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels, the military lost at least 35 aircraft in action while another 18 parked at an airbase during a rebel ground attack.

However, since the crushing separatist Tamil Tigers in May 2009, there had been no attacks blamed on the rebels. (AFP)





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