Three killed, over 40 injured in Russian plane explosion

11:24, January 02, 2011      

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Fire fighting vehicles park near a Tupolev-154 passenger plane that caught fire and blew up in Surgut Airport in Western Siberia in this still image taken from video January 1, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

At least three people were killed and more than 40 others injured when a Russian Tu-154 passenger jet exploded and caught fire at a Siberian airport on Saturday.

One woman died at the scene in the Western Siberian oil town of Surgut, said a Health Ministry spokesperson.

Emergency services spokesman Vadim Grebennikov said the fire, which began in one of the engines as the plane taxied for takeoff, caused a powerful blast that destroyed the aircraft and spread flames across an area of 100 square meters.

There were 116 passengers and eight crew members aboard the plane which was owned by the regional Kogalymavia airline.

"Refined data indicates that the fire aboard the Tupolev-154, bound to make a flight from Surgut to Moscow, affected 46 people as a result and three of them died," an official from the regional emergency service told the state-run Itar-Tass news agency.

However, the Russian Emergencies Ministry said that 44 people were injured, while the Health Ministry put the injured figure at 43.

Russian Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviation) told reporters that rescue teams tried to evacuate passengers and the crew swiftly.

"Most of the injured passengers suffer from traumas and burns," said a local law enforcement source.

Among the passengers were members of the Russian pop group Na- Na, who described the panic on board the plane.

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