x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Aircraft crash on Russian motorway kills 44

Pilot failed to make runway while trying to land in bad weather on a runway whose fog lights had failed.

Wreckage of a Tu-134 plane, belonging to the RusAir airline, is seen on a highway near the city of Petrozavodsk early yesterday. The passenger jet crashed in heavy fog and burst into flames just short of a runway whose fog lights had failed. Ministry of Emergency Situations press service / AP Photo
Wreckage of a Tu-134 plane, belonging to the RusAir airline, is seen on a highway near the city of Petrozavodsk early yesterday. The passenger jet crashed in heavy fog and burst into flames just short of a runway whose fog lights had failed. Ministry of Emergency Situations press service / AP Photo

BESOVETS // A Russian plane exploded into flames after crashing on a road just short of an airport in northwestern Russia, killing 44 and leaving eight survivors fighting for their lives.

The RusAir Tupolev 134 was trying to land at its destination of Petrozavodsk in the Karelia region in bad weather but failed to make the runway and instead hurtled onto a road two kilometres away.

Investigators said it was too early to jump to conclusions but the deputy prime minister Sergei Ivanov said the crash appeared the result of an error by the pilot who has tried to spot the runway visually in bad weather, and failed.

The impact of the landing blasted parts of the plane and corpses of the passengers several hundred metres away and triggered a fire that swept through the wreckage.

"The plane sustained a hard landing two kilometres from Petrozavodsk," the emergencies ministry said. "Forty-four people were killed and eight people injured."

Seven of the eight survivors in Petrozavodsk hospitals were in a serious condition.

A Swedish national, a Dutch citizen and two Ukrainians were among the dead, as well as a family of four with dual Russian and US citizenship.