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Kazakhstan Investigating Crash Of Russian Rocket

A Dnepr rocket being prepared for launch in June (epa) ASTANA, July 27, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakh Prime Minister Danial Akhmatov today set up a government commission to look into the possible consequences of the overnight crash of a Russian rocket.

A statement posted on the Kazakh government's website says the commission includes representatives of several ministries, including the Environment Ministry.

Kazakh experts earlier today said they feared the accident may have a negative impact on the environment.

Kazakh and Russian specialists are currently trying to locate fragments of the rocket, which crashed 73 seconds after taking off from the Baikonur launchpad in Kazakhstan.

The rocket landed some 190 kilometers from Baikonur.

Among others, the RS-20 (Dnepr) rocket was carrying what should have been Belarus' first-ever satellite.

The Russian-built Belka satellite was meant to collect meteorological, geodesic, and cartographic data.

Belarusian President Alyaksandar Lukashenka, who was in Baikonur for the launch, made no comment after the crash. The cause of the accident remains unknown.

Belarusian experts say that should a political decision be made they would be able to build another satellite quickly.

(Kazinform, Interfax-Kazakhstan)

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