PICTURE: An-225 recruited for tsunami relief effort

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Ukraine's giant Antonov An-225 transport has joined the earthquake and tsunami relief effort in Japan after being chartered to ship supplies and medical equipment to the stricken area.

Charter broker Air Partner's office in Paris enlisted the six-engined freighter - the world's largest operational aircraft - to carry aid from the French city of Chateauroux to Tokyo Narita.

The load, amounting to 145t, included medicine, respirators and blankets as well as food supplies and water.

Antonov Airlines operates the aircraft, an enlarged derivative of the An-124 of which two were ordered but only one example was ever built.

"We share everyone's concerns for the well-being of those affected by these events," says Antonov Airlines commercial director Valery Kulbaka. "The An-225 will play its part in the relief effort."

an-225 at chateauroux

 © Antonov Airlines