31 dead in Siberian passenger plane crash


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The Independent Online

At least 31 people have been killed after a passenger plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Siberia.

39 passengers and four crew members were onboard the UTair owned ATR 72 when it crashed in a snow-covered field 28 miles outside Tyumen, a major regional centre in Siberia.

According to the state-owned news network Russia Today, seven of the 12 survivors have been successfully operated on and are in a stable condition. Five remain in a critical state.

There was initial confusion over the death toll, with early reports saying 32 people had died. The Emergency Situations Ministry's regional branch in Tyumen later said that a 12th survivor was in a village hospital and revised the death toll down to 31. All of the passengers were thought to be Russian.

The plane, a French and Italian built twin-engine turbo prop, was making a 30km journey from Tyumen to the oil town of Surgut.

The cause of the crash has not been announced, but UTair said the plane went down as pilots tried to carry out an emergency landing.

Early inspections suggest a mix of technical difficulties and pilot error could have been behind the crash, with investigators ruling out the possibility of a terrorist attack.

Eyewitnesses report smoke coming from the engines just before the crash and it is thought the plane burst into flames and split into three pieces upon impact.

Russia has seen a string of deadly plane crashes in recent years. Some have been blamed on the use of ageing Soviet-era aircraft, but industry experts say the fault also lies with poor crew training, crumbling airports, lax government controls and inadequate safety measures.