Moscow: Thirty-one people were killed today when a Russian passenger plane crashed while trying to make an emergency landing shortly after take-off near the western Siberian city of Tyumen, officials said.
At least 31 out of the 43 people onboard were killed in the accident, the Russian Emergencies Ministry was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.
There were no children on board, it said.
The twin-engine ATR-72 plane heading to Surgut crashed 30 kilometers from the city of Tyumen shortly after takeoff. The aircraft burst into flames and broke into pieces upon impact.
There were 39 passengers and four crew on board. All the crew members were among the dead, but 12 survivors were taken to hospital, all in a serious condition, it said.
One person later died in hospital of his injuries.
Russian airline operator UTair said the plane went down as the pilots tried to carry out an emergency landing. While preliminary investigations cite possible causes of the crash as technical difficulties and pilot error, media reports said.
All the bodies were recovered and the plane wreckage is being examined. The "black box" flight recorder had been found and a team of investigators has flown to the scene.
A criminal probe has been launched into the incident.
President Dmitry Medvedev has put off a planned meeting with leaders of Russia's unregistered political parties because of the crash, Russian media reported.
Deputy Transport Minister Valery Okulov has been appointed head of a government inquiry into the crash.
The plane should have been carrying 40 passengers as one person arrived late for the flight, Tyumen deputy prosecutor Valentin Tarasov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti. MORE