Russian Plane Crashes in Siberia, 31 Killed

Posted April 2nd, 2012 at 4:10 am (UTC-5)
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Russian emergency officials say at least 31 people were killed when a passenger plane crashed and burst into flames shortly after takeoff in an oil-producing region of Siberia on Monday.

Thirteen survivors were pulled from the wreckage, but one later died. Medical officials told Russian state media at least five people remain in critical condition. Thirty-nine passengers and four crew members were onboard the aircraft.

The ATR-72, a twin-engine, turbo-prop plane operated by the Russian carrier UTair, went down some 35 kilometers from the western Siberian city of Tyumen while heading to the town of Surgut. The cause of the crash is not known.

Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova said the injured survivors were flown by helicopter to a hospital in Tyumen following the crash.

“This morning at 5:40 a.m. we received a phone call from the dispatcher at the Roschino airport that 35 kilometers west of the airport in Tyumen, an ATR 72 has crashed after take off. It fell some 15 kilometers west of the Tyumen city itself, after takeoff. The plane was on a flight to Surgut.”

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

But industry experts point to a number of other problems, including poor crew training, crumbling airports, lax government controls and widespread neglect of safety in pursuit of profits.