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34 killed in Siberia plane crash

02 april 2012, 12:52
Photo courtesy of m24digital.com
Photo courtesy of m24digital.com
Thirty-two people were killed Monday when a passenger plane crashed moments after takeoff in an oil-rich region of Siberia in the latest accident to strike Russia's crisis-prone aviation industry, AFP reports.

The emergencies ministry said the French-Italian made ATR-72 liner was carrying 39 passengers and four crew when it fell 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the western Siberian city of Tyumen on its way to the oil town of Surgut.

"Eleven people were injured and 32 killed," the Tyumen emergencies ministry said in a statement, adding that Tyumen governor Vladimir Yakushev had arrived at the site of the crash.

"The bodies of 29 people have been recovered. Fourteen injured people were evacuated from the crash site by helicopter," the ministry said in a statement.

"4 men and 1 woman were delivered to our hospital, all of them in a very bad condition. Two more are on the way," the source in the city hospital told RIA Novosti. Besides, part of the victims were transported to other hospitals of Tumen.

According to preliminary information, there were 43 people on board (39 passengers and 4 crew members).

The ATR-72 twin propeller plane operated by Russia's UTair had taken off from Roschino airport, near Tyumen and was heading towards Surgut, also in Siberia, a ministry spokeswoman said.

According to Russian news agencies, the plane disappeared from radar screens shortly after take-off and crashed, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the airport at around 7:50 am (0150 GMT).

Rescue teams found the plane's cabin ablaze along with other debris.

There was no immediate word on the possible cause of the crash.

The ATR-72 twin-engine plane was operated by UTair -- a private Russian airline that conducts most of its flights in the energy-rich regions of Western Siberia and the Ural Mountains.

The airline said in a statement that the plane crashed shortly after takeoff "while conducting a forced landing 1.5 kilometres (about one mile)" outside Roshchino airport.

The emergencies ministry said 232 rescue workers and investigators had been dispatched to the site.

The city of Tyumen lies 1,700 kilometres (1,000 miles) east of Moscow and is the capital of one of Russia's biggest oil producing regions of the same name.

The plane was flying to Surgut -- the heart of the Surgutneftegaz energy company and one of Russia's largest oil and natural gas producers.

Russia's aviation industry remains blighted by repeated accidents involving its ageing fleet of planes, with the Soviet-era Tupolev jets having a particularly poor safety record.

Putin has already ordered Russia's older planes to be put out of service by the end of the year and for pilots and smaller air carriers to be put to strict new tests and regulations.

The crash marks the first disaster that Putin will have to deal with following his March 4 re-election and underscores the difficulties Russia has faced in updating its Soviet-era infrastructure.

Officials have identified poor pilot training and lax safety rules as one of the most immediate problems affecting Russian aviation.

But plans to eliminate smaller carriers that employ just a handful of planes as a safety precaution have run up against the reality that Russia lacks the fleet necessary to span the country's vast distances.

Russia announced plans to recall the licences of 30 smaller airlines in response to a September 2011 plane crash that claimed the lives of 44 people -- most of them members of the championship-winning ice hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.

A plane carrying Polish president Lech Kaczynski and other top officials came down in fog near the Russian city of Smolensk in April 2010 in an accident that killed 96 people and damaged ties between Moscow and Warsaw.

Analysts say such crashes are all too predictable as some industries never recovered from the collapse of the Soviet Union and many planes and ships are nearing the end of their lifespan.

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