Russian plane crash in Siberia kills 31

Russian plane crash in Siberia kills 31

Russian plane crash in Siberia kills 31

Police officers stand near the debris of a French-Italian made ATR-72 passenger plane, in which 31 people were killed when it crashed moments after take-off. AFP photo

A passenger plane crashed in Siberia shortly after taking off yesterday morning, killing 31 of the 43 people on board, Russian emergency officials said. The 12 survivors were hospitalized in serious condition.

The ATR-72, a French-Italian-made twin-engine turboprop, operated by UTair was flying from Tyumen to the oil town of Surgut with 39 passengers and four crew. The aircraft went down on a snowy field outside Tyumen, a major regional center in Siberia about 1,700 kilometers east of Moscow. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear. UTair published a list of the passengers and crew, and none of them appeared to be foreigners.

An airport security officer told Interfax the plane had only managed to climb to about 100 meters before it lost all communication with air traffic controllers. 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.

Poor pilot training

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 needed to span the country’s vast distances.

Russia announced plans to recall the licenses 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 Smolensk in April 2010 in an accident that killed 96 people.

Compiled from AP and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.