Boeing plane crashes in Russia, killing all 50 people on board
MOSCOW - The Associated Press / Agence France-Presse
In this photo provided by Russian Emergency Situations Ministry fire fighters and rescuers work at the crash site of the Russian passenger airliner, Boeing 737, near Kazan, Nov. 17. AP photoA Boeing 737 airliner crashed on Nov. 17 in the Russian city of Kazan, killing all 50 people on board and spotlighting the poor safety record of regional airlines that ply internal routes across the world's largest nation.
The son of the president of the oil-rich province of Tatarstan and the regional head of the FSB intelligence service were named among those killed when the plane exploded in a ball of fire on hitting the runway.
Pictures showed charred wreckage scattered over a wide area, apparently taken after firefighters had extinguished the fire. Russian television broadcast a blurred video showing a bright flash of light. It also published a photo of the plane's gaping fuselage with firefighters in the foreground.
The Tatarstan airlines flight from Moscow had been trying to abort its landing in order to make a second approach when it crashed, killing all 44 passengers and six crew on board, emergency officials said.
Flight U363 took off from Moscow's Domodedovo airport at 6:25 p.m. and crashed just over an hour later, emergency officials said. The leased plane was 23 years old.
Airport was closed due to strong winds
According to local reports, the Boeing lost altitude quickly and its fuel tank exploded on impact.
There were high winds and above-zero temperatures over the airport in central Russia. Flights to and from the airport were halted until midday on Nov. 18.
Kazan, which is 800 km east of Moscow, is the capital of the largely-Muslim, oil-rich region of Tatarstan. A new runway was built at the airport ahead of the World Student Games, held in the city earlier this year. Russia will host the Winter Olympics in the southern city of Sochi early next year.
The son of Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov, Irek, was among those killed in the crash, as was the head of the regional Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Antonov, according to a passenger list whose authenticity was confirmed by the regional government.
Russia and the former Soviet republics combined have one of the world's worst air-traffic safety records, with a total accident rate almost three times the world average in 2011, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called the disaster "a frightening tragedy", offering his condolences to the relatives of the victims in a Tweet on Nov. 17.
State television showed images of a woman scanning a list of passenger names posted outside the airport and crumbling into tears as she apparently recognised one.
A spokesman for state aviation oversight agency Rosaviatsia said authorities would search for the flight recorders.
"The plane touched the ground and burst into flame," Sergei Izvolsky said. "The cause of the crash as of now is unknown."
The plane had been forced to make an emergency landing a year earlier on Nov. 26 due to problems with "cabin depressurisation" shortly after take off, a law enforcement source told Interfax news agency. No one was hurt.
IATA said last year that global airline safety had improved but that accident rates had risen in Russia and the ex-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States.