44 killed as Russian plane crashes on highway

44 killed as Russian plane crashes on highway

44 killed as Russian plane crashes on highway

The RussAir Tu-134 tried to land just before midnight local time yesterday on a motorway two km from Petrozavodsk airport in the Karelia region of northern Russia.

But the plane, which was carrying out a flight from Moscow's Domodedovo airport, crashed and caught fire before it approached the airport.

"On July 20, a Tu-134 plane sustained a hard landing. Contact was lost with the pilot at 23:40. The survivors have been sent to Petrozavodsk hospital," the local branch of the emergencies ministry said in a statement on its website.

The spokesman of The Russian investigative committee Vladimir Markin told Russian news agencies that a criminal probe was being opened into neglect of air transport rules.

"According to the latest information, 52 people were on board the plane. Forty four were killed and eight were injured," an emergencies ministry official told the RIA Novosti news agency.

The emergencies ministry in Moscow published a list of the passengers on the flight while the local branch of the ministry in Karelia gave a list of the eight people who had surivived.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, although the 24-hour news channel Vesti quoted aviation sources as saying that bad weather in the area at the time could have been a factor. Human error was also not ruled out.

The eight survivors were hospitalised, some in serious condition, emergency situations ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova told RIA Novosti.