Russian rocket with satellites crashes
A Russian Dnepr rocket carrying satellites crashed shortly after take-off late on Wednesday from the Kazakh launch pad of Baikonur, Russian media reported.
RIA Novosti said the first and second stages of the rocket failed to separate correctly after 86 seconds of flight, causing the Dnepr -- a converted intercontinental missile -- to crash.
"No harm was caused to the villages in the surrounding areas," Yuri Nosenko, deputy head of Russia's space agency, told reporters according to Interfax news agency.
The agencies said the rocket was carrying the Belka, a monitoring satellite that would have been the ex-Soviet republic of Belarus' first man made object in space, along with 17 other satellites.
Russian and Belarussian media reported earlier that Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko had travelled to Baikonur, which is in the middle of Kazakhstan's steppes and was the launch pad for the Soviet space programme's most spectacular successes, especially to witness the launch.
They did not report his reaction to the crash.