Three killed, over 40 injured in Russian plane explosion (2)

11:24, January 02, 2011      

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A grab taken from the Russian NTV channel shows the wreckage the Russian passenger Tu-154 aircraft at an airport in Surgut, in the far north of Russia, January 1, 2010. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

"When the engines were started up, something went wrong and the outer covering of the plane caught fire," group member Vladimir Politov said by telephone, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. " We had trouble opening the emergency exits and people began to really panic, with some of them running right through the flames."

Politov said he and the other members of the group, which was popular in Russia in the 1990s, got out through an emergency exit over a wing and none of them was hurt.

A criminal investigation has been launched into the accident. Russian Investigation Committee's spokesman Vladimir Markin said the disaster might be caused by violation of fire safety rules and nonobservance of aircraft operation regulations.

The Tu-154 has been the workhorse of the Soviet and post-Soviet civilian aviation industry, first entering service in the 1970s. But after a series of crashes involving the aging fleet raised safety concerns, flagship carrier Aeroflot withdrew all of its Tu- 154s from service, with the last flight a year ago.

The mid-range jet remains, however, the mainstay of smaller airlines across Russia and the former Soviet Union. It is banned from parts of Europe due to excessive engine noise.

Source: Xinhua
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