The testimony of witnesses who saw Prigozhin’s plane fall: “It was just a bang, I looked up and saw white smoke”

Emergency specialists transport a body bag near the wreckage of the private plane linked to the head of Wagner’s mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin (Reuters) (STRINGER /)

Inhabitants of a town near the place where the plane crashed in which the head of the Russian mercenary group Wagner is believed to have died, Yevgeny Prigozhinthey said that they had heard a crash and then saw the plane plummet to the ground.

The plane, an Embraer Legacy 600, crashed on Wednesday near the town of Kuzhenkino, in Russia’s Tver region, while en route from Moscow to Saint Petersburg, killing all 10 people on board: seven passengers and three members. of the crew.

There has been no official comment from the Kremlin, or the Defense Ministry, on Prigozhin’s fate, but a Telegram channel linked to his Wagner mercenary group, Gray Zone, declared him dead.

a reporter from Reuters who was at the crash site early Thursday saw several men carrying black bags with corpses on stretchers.

Part of the plane’s blue and white tail and other fragments lay on the ground near a wooded area.

The remains of the private plane of the head of Wagner's mercenaries (Reuters)
The remains of the private plane of the head of Wagner’s mercenaries (Reuters) (STRINGER /)

Forensic investigators had pitched a tent and set up lighting equipment. Some of the remains lay near what appeared to be an abandoned, half-built structure.

Vitaly Stepenok, 72, a resident of Kuzhenkino, told Reuters: “I have heard an explosion or a crash. Normally if there’s an explosion on the ground you’ll hear an echo, but it was just a bang and I looked up and saw white smoke.”.

A wing flew off in one direction and the fuselage went like thishe said, gesturing with his arms to show the plane heading toward the ground.

“And then it slid down on one wing. It wasn’t plummeting, it was gliding”.

Standing on a village street, Stepenok said he feared the plane would hit the town’s houses.

“I was there. I jumped on my bike and I arrived (at the place) in about 20 minutes. everything was on fire. There were people walking. They pulled someone out, their remains. (…) I couldn’t make it out. I only saw the number of the plane, which I told them, and that was it.”

Another villager, who gave his name as Anatoly, said: “As for what could have happened, I’ll just say this: it wasn’t thunder, it was a metallic crashLet’s put it like this. I’ve heard things like that before.”

(Reuters) (ANTON VAGANOV /)

The accident came two months after Prigozhin led an abortive mutiny against the army leadership, accusing it of incompetence in its management of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Russian investigators said they had opened a criminal investigation. Some anonymous sources told Russian media that they believed the plane had been brought down by one or more surface-to-air missiles. Reuters could not confirm it.

(With information from Reuters)

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