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A plane crash in Russia has left 16 paratroopers dead.

The light aircraft came down in the region of Tatarstan on Sunday, an area to the east of Moscow.

The plane, which had been in operation for 34 years, was used for training paratroopers at the Menzelinsky flying club.

The plane was a Let L-410 Turbolet, which is a twin-engine short-range transport aircraft.

russian aviation safety standards have improved in recent years but accidents continue to happen, particularly in remote regions.

An ageing Antonov An-26 transport plane crashed in the Russian far east last month killing six people.

All 28 people on board an Antonov An-26 twin-engine turboprop died in a crash in Kamchatka in July.

At least 16 people have been killed in the crash, in Tatarstan in Russia (Image: GETTY)

The plane was carrying a group of 21 parachute jumpers on board, the Emergencies Ministry said, according to the TASS news agency.

The state-run Cosmonaut Training Centre has suspended its ties with the aeroclub pending an investigation, TASS cited a source as saying.

In a statement, the Russian ministry said : 'Fire and rescue units are at the scene, there are 23 people on board, three people have been rescued, further rescue operations are underway. '

seven more were injured, the ria news agency cited the emergency services as saying.

Emergency specialists work at the crash site of the L-410 plane near the town of Menzelinsk in the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia

It crashed immediately after take-off, one witness said, having been flying low over trees.

"The aircraft was overloaded, its left engine failed," said the report.. Eyewitness Oksana said : Oksana, eyewitness : "I started taking photos, after ( my husband ) said it was falling.

One Russian broadcaster tweeted "eyewitness footage from the crash site of the L-410 aircraft in Tatarstan, adding : "The source reports 19 dead."

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