At least three people have died and over forty were injured after an ensuing explosion and fire of a Russian Tu-154M passenger jet that made an emergency landing in the Siberian city of Surgut on Saturday due to an engine flaming out on takeoff, a spokesman for the local branch of the Russia's Emergencies Ministry said.
The Emergencies Ministry said that 44 people were injured in the fire, while the Health Ministry said 43 were injured. So far, the Health Ministry has not confirmed information about the number of those killed in the explosion. Three children have been hospitalized.
There were 116 passengers and nine crew members on board the plane from Kogalymavia Airlines which was to land at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport, the Emergencies Ministry said.
Health officials and psychologists are currently rendering aid to those affected in the accident.
Transport Minister Igor Levitin pledged that the plane crew and the airport services have done their best to evacuate the passengers as soon as possible, however eyewitnesses said that fire exits had been closed for a long time and the passengers had to jump out through the flame.
A popular Russian pop music group, Na-Na, was among the passengers on the ill-fated airliner. Members of the group smelt the burnt odor first, a Surgut internet-user wrote on one of the city's local forums several hours after the tragedy citing his friend who was among the passengers of the aircraft.
A criminal case has been launched in connection with the accident. Several hours after the explosion the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) announced on its website it has forged a commission to probe the accident.
Levitin said that an inter-departmental commission to look into the causes of the explosion was set up.
MOSCOW, January 1 (RIA Novosti)