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Military plane crashes in Poland, killing at least 7
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    WARSAW, Poland — A military plane carrying 18 officers and crew crashed Wednesday in northwestern Poland, killing at least seven people, officials said. The officers had been attending a flight safety conference in Warsaw.
    The plane was approaching an air base at Miroslawiec shortly after 7 p.m. when it crashed, Maj. Bogdan Ziolkowski, a spokesman for the base told The Associated Press.
    Fourteen passengers and four crew were on board, said air force spokesman Col. Wieslaw Grzegorzewski.
    Emergency services spokeswoman Monika Bak said seven people died. Grzegorzewski said some people were killed, but did not provide a number.
    The aircraft, a Spanish-built CASA C-295M military transport plane, was about 1 mile from the airstrip when it clipped trees on its approach, crashed into a wooded area and burst into flames, Ziolkowski said.
    ‘‘We don’t know what the cause of the crash was right now,’’ Ziolkowski said.
    He added that the passengers were officers attending an annual one-day conference in Warsaw on air safety.
    The plane had more people on board when it took off from Warsaw, but had already landed at three other military airports. It had two more planned stops in Swidwin and Krakow.
    Polish media were describing the accident as one of the worst military disasters in more than three decades. President Lech Kaczynski was cutting short a visit to Croatia to return to Poland on Thursday, a spokesman said.
    Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Defense Minister Bogdan Klich were rushing to the crash site late Wednesday.
    Tusk’s spokeswoman, Agnieszka Liszka, called the accident a ‘‘shocking tragedy’’ and said the premier extended his sympathy to the families.
    A Polish military expert, Grzegorz Holdanowicz, said it was the first air disaster involving a CASA C-295M, a plane he called one of the safest in the Polish air force. The Polish military also uses the plane type in Iraq and in Afghanistan, where it supports the U.S.-led operations.
    The pilots of Wednesday’s flight were from a transport squadron based in Balice, near Krakow, that had flown in Iraq and Afghanistan, the squadron spokesman, Cpt. Piotr Jaszczuk said.
    Associated Press writer Monika Scislowska contributed to this report.

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