Russian Passenger Jet Explodes; 3 Dead, 43 Injured

by
aliciawesly2
(AP)

MOSCOW — A Russian passenger jet carrying 124 people caught fire as it taxied down a snowy runway in Siberia and then exploded on Saturday, killing three people and injuring 43, including six who were badly burned, officials said.

Most of the passengers and crew were evacuated before the explosion, though people on board described a chaotic scene as as the burning plane filled up with thick, black smoke and panicked passengers rushed through flames to escape.

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 Tu-154 aircraft and spread flames across 1,000 square meters (11,000 square feet).

Russian television showed video taken with a mobile telephone of the burning plane, its center a giant fireball. All that remained afterward was the tail section and part of a wing.

Grebennikov said 10 people were seriously injured, including six who were badly burned and four who suffered broken bones or other trauma. Most of the other injured passengers sought treatment for poisoning after inhaling toxic fumes.

The plane, which belonged to the regional Kogalymavia airline, was flying from the western Siberian town of Surgut to Moscow.

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

"First we heard a clap and then there were flames in the back of the plane and people immediately panicked," group member Yury Rymarev said on NTV televsion. He said flight attendants tried to calm the passengers, but the flames began to spread, especially after one of the passengers opened an emergency exit and air rushed in.

The plane quickly filled up with smoke that was black and acrid from burning plastic, Rymarev said.
AP