New video has emerged from the moment a Russian-made transport plane said to be carrying Wagner mercenaries skidded off the runway and erupted into a huge fireball.
The footage of the September 23 crash was posted on social media early Wednesday and shows a massive Russian-made Ilyushin Il-76 transport plane skidding off of a runway while landing in Gao, Mali.
The plane kicks up a cloud of dust before erupting into a huge fireball that consumes the aircraft.
Pro-Ukrainian sources on social media have claimed that as many as 140 people died in the crash including Malian soldiers and Wagner fighters.
While the reports are unconfirmed, Wagner is known to operate in the country and has used the airport in Gao in the past.
The tail number for the transport plane – EW-412TH – shows that it is owned by the Belarusian cargo company, Rubystar.
Sources close to Wagner, including the Grey Zone Telegram channel, have denied any of the group’s mercenaries were on board the doomed flight.
The cause of the crash is reportedly under investigation but it appears the plane landed too far down the 2,500-meter runway before skidding off.
The fiery crash came one month to the day after late Wagner’s billionaire boss Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed when his private jet crashed outside Moscow.
Once a close ally of Vladimir Putin – dubbed Putin’s chef due to his beginnings as a caterer – Prigozhin became fed up with the way top Russian defence officials were handling the war in Ukraine.
Following several public disagreements Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, Prigozhin launched an abortive coup attempt which saw Wagner forces march on Moscow.
After coming to a deal with Vladimir Putin, his mercenary army was stood down. Just a couple months later he died in a fiery plane crash while flying between Moscow and St Petersberg.
The timing of his death has led to widespread speculation that the Russian government, specifically Putin, had a hand in his death.
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