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Sun, Mar 18, 2007

Reports: Fog Likely A Factor In Russian Airliner Crash

Six Passengers Killed After Plane Touches Down Short Of Runway

Early indications point to fog as a culprit in Saturday's fatal crash of a UTair Tu-134 in Samara. Six people were killed and 26 injured when the Russian airliner apparently landed short of the runway, and flipped over before its fuselage broke in two.

"The fog was very heavy and the plane's wing touched the ground," said an Emergency Ministry spokeswoman, according to the Associated Press. "Its fuselage then collapsed and it crash-landed."

Reports from the scene state 57 people were onboard the flight from the Siberian city of Surgut. Some were able to escape unhurt from the ruined plane.

Prosecutors allege the plane initially touched down some 1,000 feet short of the runway, and bounced. A spokesperson for UTair -- a charter carrier that is banned from operating flights to the European Union, due to safety lapses, according to the AP -- blamed weather for the crash.

"The fog was very thick," said the unnamed airline employee.

Similar in layout to the Douglas DC-9 -- though somewhat smaller -- Tu-134s entered commercial service in 1967, and are among the oldest passenger aircraft still operating in Russia.

Saturday's accident near the Volga River was the second landing-related airliner mishap in just over a week. As Aero-News reported, a Boeing 737 flying for Indonesia's Garuda Airlines overshot the runway on landing at Yogyakarta Airport, killing 21 passengers and injuring 50.

FMI: www.utair.ru/en/

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