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 today.
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 pm local time (1940 GMT) yesterday.
“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.