Bulgarian cargo plane crashes in Azores, seven killed

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A Russian-built cargo plane crashed shortly after takeoff in the Azores Islands, killing all seven Bulgarian crew members, officials said Thursday.
The Antonov 12 plane crashed on flat land in good weather, about 550 yards from the runway at the Lajes air base on the Portuguese archipelago, air force Capt. Antonio Santos said by telephone.
The four-propeller aircraft belonged to a Bulgarian company and had been contracted by the Portuguese airline Air Luxor to carry mail between the island group and the Portuguese mainland.
It was heading to Lisbon on the last leg of a daily flight, Santos said. He said the cause of the accident was not known.
State-run radio Antena 1 quoted unidentified airport sources as saying that the plane took off at 9:18 p.m., but about a minute later the pilot contacted the control tower and requested to return immediately to the air base.
Investigators from Portugal’s Civil Aviation Authority flew to the Atlantic islands, about 800 miles west of mainland Portugal.
Four bodies were recovered from the charred wreckage by Portuguese and U.S. troops stationed at the joint-use base.
A search for the other three crew members and for the aircraft’s flight recorder was suspended until the investigators arrived.