A passenger jet has crashed early Monday morning in Russia’s Tyumen region, in Siberia. The country’s Emergencies Ministry says at least 31 people out of the 43 onboard were killed.
Twelve passengers are in critical condition in hospitals in Tyumen after being evacuated by helicopter from the crash site. One man is said to have died in transit.
There were reportedly 39 passengers and 4 crew members on the plane.
The French-Italian-built ATR-72 plane heading to Surgut crashed 30 kilometers from its departure point of Tyumen shortly after takeoff. Connection with the plane was lost shortly after the flight was underway. The aircraft is said to have burst into flames and broken into three pieces upon impact.
Eyewitnesses report that smoke was coming from the plane’s engines just before the crash.
Preliminary investigations show technical difficulties and pilot error could have been behind the crash. Moreover they have ruled out the possibility of a terrorist attack.
“Judging by the nature of the damage sustained by the plane during the crash we have ruled out the possibility of an attack,” Vladimir Markin from Russia’s Investigative Committee told news agency Interfax.
Some 200 rescuers and 43 specialized vehicles are working at the scene. A criminal case has been opened.
A plane from Moscow carrying psychologists and rescuers left for Tyumen shortly after the event. The Emergencies Ministry has opened a hotline for the relatives of those onboard (8-800-775-17-17) to provide information and psychological assistance.
The ATR-72 is a twin-engine turboprop medium-haul passenger airliner. The plane is designed for the medium-distance transport of up to 74 passengers, and is flown by two pilots.