Russia says plane crash kills 44, eight injured

Amateur video footage shows the immediate aftermath of Russian plane crash; eight survivors have suffered multiple injuries and burns.

June 21, 2011 09:26
3 minute read.
Russian plane crash

Russian plane crash 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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BESOVETS, Russia - At least 44 people were killed and eight injured when a passenger plane broke up and caught fire on coming into land in fog in north-western Russia, an Emergency Ministry spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The Tupolev-134 plane, carrying 52 people including nine crew, crashed near a road about 1 km (0.6 miles) from the runway at the Besovets airport outside the northern city of Petrozavodsk at about 11.40 p.m. local time (1940 GMT) on Monday.

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According to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, pilot error was the most likely cause of the crash. "From the initial external data the pilot's mistake is clear - in bad weather conditions he veered to the right of the runway and in foggy conditions searched for the runway visually until the last minute (and) did not find it," Ivanov said in France on a visit with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Ivanov, who oversees Russia's aviation industry, said the crash during an attempt to land in poor visibility late on Monday resembled the crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski in Russia in April 2010.

Speaking about Monday's accident, spokeswoman Irina Andriyanova said by telephone  that "the preliminary information is that 44 people were killed. "Eight people were injured and seven of them are in a very grave condition."

The Internet news website, which posted a full list of the passengers, said a 10-year-old boy named Anton had survived the crash but gave no details about his condition.

"We took a child to the local hospital -- the child was in a very grave condition," a medical worker told a local television crew at the scene. She said a total of five people were taken to hospital.

A video made by a witness on her mobile phone, and filmed by the television crew, showed flames soaring from the wreckage into the night sky near where the plane crashed, in the region of Kareliya about 700 km (430 miles) north-west of Moscow.

"Everything was on fire," a witness who declined to give his name told the television crew. A photographer at the scene saw charred wreckage from the plane and dozens of emergency workers and firemen.

The crash comes on the eve of the Paris Air Show which Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is due to attend.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who has swapped his Tupolev for a French-made executive jet, in April criticized flaws in domestically-built planes and the nation's poor safety record.

One of the most high-profile Tupolev air disasters in recent times occurred in April 2010 when Polish President Lech Kaczynski's official Tupolev Tu-154 plane crashed near Smolensk airport in western Russia, killing 96 people including Kaczynski, his wife and a large number of senior officials.

The Tu-134 plane that crashed on Monday was operated by the private company RusAir and was traveling from Moscow's Domodedovo airport. RusAir, which specializes in charter flights, declined immediate comment.

Most of the passengers were Russian but a Swedish national was also on the aircraft, Interfax news agency said.

The Tuploev-134 is a Soviet aircraft whose maiden flight was in 1967. It was unclear when the plane which crashed was made.

The aircraft's black boxes have been recovered.

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