122 dead in Russia Airline Crash - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/9/06-MOSCOW, Russia

122 dead in Russia Airline Crash

A Sibir Airlines passenger jet with 200 people on board veered off the runway early Sunday while landing at Irkutsk Airport in eastern Siberia, crashed into a concrete barrier and burst into flames, killing at least 122 people, according to the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations.

The front of the Airbus A-310 was crushed, and 53 people were hospitalized, most of them with burns, the ministry told CNN.

So far, 120 bodies have been recovered, the ministry said. Another 25 are missing and while most are feared dead, witnesses reported seeing some people jumping from the wreckage and leaving the crash site.

The jet, flying from Moscow, hit a building before catching fire, the agency said.

Russian Transport Minister Igor Levitin blamed the crash of the Airbus A-310 on wet runway conditions after rain, Russian news agencies reported.

CNN's Senior International Correspondent Mathew Chance said that the airline -- Russia's second largest -- has a good reputation and reports suggested pilot error may have been a factor.

Both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder have been recovered and will be analyzed in Moscow, Transport Minister Levitin said.

"Experts have started their work on the two flight recorders found at the site," Levitin said. "On the instruction of President (Vladimir) Putin, a governmental commission has been formed with me as head to investigate the causes of the crash and to provide necessary assistance to the relatives of the dead."

The plane was carrying eight crew members and 192 passengers at the time of the crash, a Sibir Airlines spokesman Konstantin Koshman told "Russia Today" English language news service.

Koshman said the passengers included some foreigners and children believed to be heading to summer vacation on Lake Baikal, just outside Irkutsk.

Six children ages 3 to 13 were brought to a local hospital, one of them in a coma and the rest conscious but in shock, according to a Russian nurse, speaking on "Russia Today."

The pilot of the Airbus A-310 "was more than an experienced pilot," with over 900 hours of flying experience, Koshman said. He said the aircraft was "checked regularly," and had last been inspected 24 hours before the crash.

It is the second fatal crash inside Russia involving an Airbus aircraft this year.

On May 3, all 113 people aboard an Armavia Airlines flight died when the Airbus 320 crashed into the Black Sea near the Russian resort of Sochi.

The plane had departed from the Armenian capital of Yerevan.

Three Sibir Airlines flights have been involved in fatal accidents inside Russia since 2001, including Sunday's crash.

On Oct. 4, 2001, Sibir Airlines Tupolev TU-154M was hit by a Ukrainian surface-to-air missile over the Black Sea near Sochi, killing all 77 aboard. The missile was fired as part of a training exercise. The flight was heading from Tel Aviv, Israel to Novosibirsk in Siberia.

On Aug. 24, 2004, Sibir Airlines Tupolev TU-154B2 departed Moscow for Sochi and disappeared more than an hour after take-off. All 46 people on board were killed when the plane went down near Millerovo, Russia.

It was one of two flights that went down after leaving Moscow within minutes of each other. Both are believed to have been blown up by Chechen suicide bombers.

CNN's Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance contributed to this report

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