In an unfortunate incident that unfolded last week, a Malian Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 Candid cargo jet, bearing the registration number TZ-98T, met a catastrophic fate at Gao International Airport. The dramatic event was captured on video, revealing the aircraft over-running the runway and subsequently exploding in a ball of fire.
The video footage, filmed from behind the descending Il-76, exhibited the aircraft hurtling towards the runway’s end before careening into the dirt, enveloping the scene in large dust clouds. Moments before the calamity, the aircraft’s stabilizer was seen rearing up, hinting at the impending disaster. The precise cause of the aircraft landing so far onto the runway and the apparent lack of additional braking measures, including the use of spoilers and reverse thrust capability, are yet to be determined.
The aftermath of the crash revealed the aircraft’s complete destruction, leaving the exact number of individuals on board and their fate unclear. However, available information from the Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives indicates casualties and successful rescues. Tragically, a nearby destroyed vehicle hinted at the potential loss of internal cargo.
Initial reports suggested a significant loss of life, potentially involving Mali armed forces personnel and members of the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), an organization employed by Mali’s military government since early-2022 to address internal instability. The Malian Air Force, grappling with a series of mishaps and enemy actions over the past year, had lost several aircraft before this catastrophic event.
Intriguing details about the Il-76’s past have also come to light, including the possibility that the Malian Air Force first used it before the Wagner PMC. This information provides fresh insight into the terrible incident and sheds light on the difficulties the Malian military faces in trying to maintain aircraft in a highly tense political climate. The episode serves as a vivid reminder of the dangers and difficulties military forces must deal with, particularly in areas rife with unrest and armed conflict.