Turkish Police Beechcraft B300 King Air 350i surveillance aircraft impacted Mount Artos as it was returning to Van-Ferit Melen Airport in Turkey following a mission. All 7 on board were killed.
The reconnaissance plane crashed into Mount Artos, a dormant volcano in the province of Van, Anadolu news agency reported interior minister Suleyman Soylu as saying.
Communication with the aircraft — which was carrying two pilots and five “technical personnel” — had been lost at around 10.45 pm (1945 GMT) Wednesday, he said, adding it had crashed at an altitude of 2,200 metres (7,200 feet).
Soylu later arrived to inspect the scene of the crash, according to pictures posted on his Twitter account that showed him alongside military personnel in rugged terrain.
Accident investigators are working to determine the cause of the crash, NTV said.
Broadcaster NTV quoted Soylu as saying that the last contact from the plane was received at 10.32 pm (1932 GMT) on Wednesday. The plane disappeared from radar 13 minutes later.
The 2015-model plane had been conducting “reconnaissance and surveillance” in Van and the predominantly-Kurdish Hakkari province since Monday, Anadolu said.
Hakkari province borders Iraq and has seen numerous clashes between Turkish forces and Kurdish militants during a decades-long insurgency.
Van provincial governor Mehmet Emin Bilmez paid tribute to the seven “heroes” on Twitter and sent condolences to their families.
A government investigation into the incident was underway, he added. Two Turkish pilots died in 2018 when a military training plane crashed during an exercise in the western province of Izmir.
Remote and mountainous Van province on Turkey’s eastern border was struck by two avalanches in February that killed 41 people. Earlier that month a magnitude 5.7 earthquake in neighbouring Iran injured dozens in the province.