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Russia: Plane overshoots runway in Moscow, killing four
MOSCOW, (Xinhua): A Russian Tupolev Tu-204 passenger plane overshot the runway at Moscow's Vnukovo airport, killing four people onboard, the Emergency Situations Ministry said Saturday.
The medium-range Red Wings airline flight, with eight crew members onboard, had flown from the Czech Republic to home without passengers onboard, the ministry said.
It slid off the runway while making a hard landing at 4:36 p.m. Moscow Time (1236 GMT) before catching fire and breaking into three parts. The right wing of the plane caught fire when touching the ground.
Rescuers found the bodies of the two pilots during the clearing operation on the spot. Local media reported later a 27-year-old hospitalized woman died in a Moscow hospital, citing the Moscow healthcare department.
Those killed include the captain, the co-pilot, the flight engineer and a stewardess, the ministry confirmed, adding another four crew members were injured in the crash.
TV footage showed the broken plane lying on the Kiev highway near Vnukovo airport, surrounded by rescuers, police cars and ambulances.
Emergencies officials later said rescuers had finished the searching operation at night.
The fire was controlled by firefighters at the scene within 30 minutes. The airport was reopened at about 6:30 p.m. Moscow time ( 1430 GMT) after a temporary closedown, head of the airport press service told local media.
Several flights have been redirected to Domodedovo airport following the crash. Traffic remained difficult on Kiev highway late at night, with part of the street leading to the Moscow region fully closed. Local authorities called drivers to avoid the area.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered an investigation into the crash and instructed the government to offer all necessary resources to help the injured people.
According to healthcare officials, the condition of one injured crew member was extremely grave while that of the other three was critical. Necessary medical aid has been offered to the injured people, the ministry told local media.
The air crash has also been reported to President Vladimir Putin, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding the government was helping the injured crew members.
Business tycoon Alexander Lebedev, owner of the Red Wings company, wrote on his Twitter blog the crashed plane begun flight operating since 2008. He expressed condolences to the dead crew members and pledged to offer "material and other aid" to everyone in need.
Founded in 1999, the Red Wings provides both scheduled passenger and cargo charter services, the company said on its website.
It currently operates several Tu-204 planes, including both newly built and used ones, with the capacity to hold up to 210 passengers.
A criminal probe was launched into the crash, the Russian Investigative Committee said. Investigators working on the spot considered pilots' errors as the cause of the crash.
Late Saturday night, the committee's spokesman Vladimir Markin said both flight data recorders were found on the crash scene.
Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said the plane was piloted by experienced crew, with the flight commander's recorded flight hours reaching 15,000 hours, the second pilot 10,000 hours and the engineer 10,000 hours.
According to the official, the plane could not stop in the landing zone and slid off the runway before breaking the airport wall.
An official inspection conducted earlier this year showed that about 80 percent of all air crashes happening in Russia were caused by human errors.
In 2011, six air crashes occurred in Russia with 97 people killed, which accounted for more than one fifth of all air crashes in the world.
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