The ACT Airlines flight from Hong Kong to Istanbul via Bishkek crashed as it came into land under bad weather conditions at 7.31 a.m. local time (0131GMT), Deputy Prime Minister Muhammetkaly Abulgaziev said.

ACT Airlines operates under the name myCARGO. Based in Istanbul, it flies eight Boeing B747 transport aircraft, according to the company’s website. The firm is 49 percent-owned by China’s HNA Group with the remainder belonging to Turkish interests.

Abulgaziyev said the blackbox of the plane had been found.

"The plane had disappeared from the radar right after it was given landing permission," he said.

"According to officials, there was no obstacle to the landing. A team from Moscow will arrive tomorrow to investigate the reason for the crash," he added.

In a statement, the company said it was “deeply saddened” by the accident. It said the crash was not due to technical reasons or overloading and added the real reason will be announced to the public after the investigation was complete. 

A total of 37 people, including Capt. Ibrahim Gurcan Diranci, co-pilot Kazim Ondul, loading expert Melih Aslan and Flight Technician Ihsan Koca died in the crash, according to the statement. 

The airline said the plane had the capacity of carrying 112,462 kilograms (247,936 pounds) of cargo. When the plane crashed, it was loaded with 85,618 kilograms (188,755 pounds).

"There was not any failure logging in the technical record book," it said.

The statement identified the aircraft with the registration number TC-MCL. According to the firm’s website, the plane was manufactured in 2003.

The Turkish Transport Ministry said two accident investigation experts had been sent to Bishkek. Turkish Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan telephoned his Kyrgyz counterpart to offer support, the ministry added.

Authorities said the airport had been closed until 4.00 p.m. local time (1000GMT) and said staff was working with the Emergency Situations Ministry.

Tuesday was declared a day of mourning by the government.

Turkish Airlines issued a statement to clarify the aircraft was not operated or staffed by its personnel.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent condolences to President Almazbek Atambayev, the Kremlin said in a statement. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev also passed on condolences and his “deep sorrow” over the tragedy.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Atambayev following the crash and conveyed his condolences, a presidential source said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also spoke to his counterpart Erlan Abdyldaev and promised support, a diplomatic official said.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it learnt the crash with "utmost grief and sorrow".

"The government and the people of Pakistan offer their heartfelt condolences to the governments and the brotherly peoples of Turkey and Kyrgyzstan, as well as to the families of those who lost their loved ones in this tragic accident," it added.

The statement also said Pakistan was in "strong" solidarity with Turkey and Kyrgyzstan.

Anadolu Agency