A Russian military plane exploded in a massive fireball as it took off from a remote airbase carrying a mysterious cargo.
The Il-76 was on the runway when an engine erupted in flames, rolling off the runway as the inferno quickly began to spread.
There are believed to have been eight on board the craft who were moving an unspecified military cargo, who reportedly managed to escape from the craft before it burst into flames, said reports.
Footage of the incident showed the burning Russian defence ministry aircraft at Ayni airbase near the capital Dushanbe in ex-Soviet republic Tajikistan, also known as Gissar air base.
The plane’s registration number was initially not disclosed, according to Telegram channel reports.
But the wrecked plane is believed to be RF-86900 – used previously to supply Putin’s war effort via Belarus.
Details of its cargo have not been disclosed ‘for wartime political reasons’, according to a comment from a source.
He also said the plane may have belonged to Vladimir Putin’s elite Pskov airborne troops. They are reported to have lost five Il-76s in strikes by Ukraine.
‘If it’s the Pskov regiment then it’s a real disaster – we have lost five already,’ he said.
According to the eyewitness, the initial blaze was believed to have started in the engine before quickly spreading to the rest of the craft.
The enormous jet is the second Il-76 to explode on the runway in the past month.
In September, another one of the Russian-made planes was filmed as it careered off a runway in Africa and exploded into a fireball amid suspicions the jet was linked to the Wagner Group.
The jet burst into flames in Mali- where Wagner’s troops are stationed – just weeks after the private mercenary group’s leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed after his plane exploded on a flight near Moscow.
Sources close to Wagner denied the Russian mercenary group was linked to the flight, even though its forces are active in Mali.
However, they did not rule out the possibility that Wagner was linked to the plane.