A Tu-134 passenger plane of RusAir airline crashed in Russia's Karelia Republic on Monday night. It was originally said that the plane performed a hard landing, although it became clear later that the situation was much more serious.
The plane bound for Petrozavodsk from Moscow's Domodedovo airport was landing in complicated weather conditions - in heavy fog and rain - at 23:40. The aircraft went off radar screens on 0:00. The Tu-134 crashed on a highway some 700 meters far from the landing strip, broke apart and burst into flames.
Russia's EMERCOM has confirmed the death of 44 people. According to most recent information, there were 52 people on board the jetliner - 43 passengers and nine members of the crew. Only eight people, one of them is a child, have survived the crash.
Irina Andrianova, an official spokeswoman for Russia's EMERCOM, said that seven survivors were in critical condition. All of them have been hospitalized with serious injuries and burns. The ten-year-old boy has already received surgery at the republican hospital in Petrozavodsk.
Football referee Vladimir Pettai was said to be among the victims of the crash. There was one foreign national on board the plane, Jacob Vettrut, a Swedish rescuer, officials said.
Air hostess Yulia Skvortsova is the only crew member among the survivors. Medics are currently fighting for her life.
The reasons of the crash remain unknown. It could be possible, though, that the landing strip was not illuminated with high intensity lights which are normally used in foggy and rainy weather. It was also said that the lights of the landing strip were deactivated for five seconds after the plane damaged electric power lines when landing.
The plane was landing on the car road perpendicular to the landing strip. As a result, the plane crashed on the highway, broke apart and burst into flames. The crash took place only 20 meters from a cottage settlement.
The bodies of the passengers, fragments of the plane, engines and seats were scattered along the highway, officials said.