Passenger Jet Explodes At Russian Airport
A Russian passenger jet has exploded after it caught fire at a Siberian airport, killing three people and injuring 43 others
The Tupolev plane, which had 116 passengers and eight crew on board, burst into flames after a blaze in one of the engines as the aircraft taxied for takeoff.
Most of the people on board were safely evacuated before the explosion in the western Siberian oil town of Surgut.
Emergency services spokesman Vadim Grebennikov said 10 people were seriously injured, including six who were badly burned and four who had suffered broken bones or other trauma.
The remaining victims were treated for smoke and toxic fume inhalation.
Singer Sergei Grigoriyev and his popular Russian rock group Na-Na were among those who were on the plane.
He said: “There was a thick, black smoke and people started to panic. They were literally stepping on each other’s heads.”
“I saw my life flash before me,” he said, according to the ITAR-TASS news agency.
Images from the scene showed the wreckage of the plane slumped on the runway with huge clouds of smoke billowing from the flames.
The investigative committee of prosecutors said a criminal probe had begun into a possible violation of air transport security rules.
The Tu-154, which belonged to the regional Kogalymavia airline, was flying to the Russian capital Moscow.
It was first used in the 1970s and became the workhorse of the Soviet and post-Soviet civilian aviation industry.
But safety concerns were raised after a series of crashes involving the aging fleet.
Flagship carrier Aeroflot withdrew all of its Tu-154s from service, with the last flight a year ago.
However, the mid-range jet remains the mainstay of smaller airlines across Russia and the former Soviet Union.
It is banned from parts of Europe due to excessive engine noise.