At least 44 killed in Russian plane crash

MOSCOW, (Reuters) – At least 44 people were killed  when a passenger plane broke up and caught fire on coming into  land in heavy fog in north-western Russia, an Emergency Ministry  spokeswoman said yesterday.
The Tupolev-134 plane, carrying 43 passengers and 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.
“The preliminary information is that 44 people were killed,”  the spokeswoman said by telephone. “Eight people were injured.”  She said nine crew were on board; officials had earlier said  there were five crew on board.
Photographs on the www.lifenews.ru Internet news website  showed firemen battling with fires among the wreckage of the  plane, which crashed about 700 km (430 miles) north of Moscow.
The news site, 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.
The crash comes on the eve of the Paris Air Show which  Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is due to attend.
The plane, operated by the private company RusAir, was  travelling from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport. RusAir, which  specialises 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.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who has swapped his  Tupolev for a French-made executive jet, in April critised 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.

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