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Wed, Mar 16, 2005

Russian Plane Down -- More Deaths Reported

Report: AN-24 Was On Approach In Northern Russia

REAL TIME UPDATE 1910 EST -- Ten survivors of Wednesday's Antonov AN-24 mishap on Russia's northern coast have been airlifted by Mi-8 helicopter to the regional capital of Naryan Mar, where they're said to be in "grave" condition.

With temperatures hovering at about -11F, Russian state television showed rescue workers loading stretchers bearing the injured into helicopters for the journey to better medical facilities. At last report, 24 of the 45 passengers and crew had survived the mishap.

Earlier reports said all 49 people were killed when the An-24 went down in northern Russia Wednesday, according to the Interfax News Agency in Moscow.

The aircraft, operated by a small Russian carrier called Regional Airlines, carried 45 passengers and four crew members, according to news reports. The passengers were employees of the Russian state oil company Lukoil. The Antonov was on a flight from Ufa, in southern Siberia, to Varendei with several intermediate stops.

The AN-24 (file photo of type, below) was reportedly on final approach to an airport in the oil port city along Russia's Arctic coast. Witnesses say the aircraft suddenly banked hard and plunged to the ground. The wreckage then reportedly burst into flames.

Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry hasn't reported yet on the conditions surrounding the accident. There's no word yet on possible survivors.

A statement from the Russian Transport Ministry said the AN-24 was built in 1972 and had undergone ten "repairs," the latest in 2002. The statement said the plane's pilot, who apparently died in the crash, was a veteran crew member with 14,000 flight hours logged.

FMI: www.gov.ru

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