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    Russia's transport watchdog urges airlines to ditch Tu-154B passenger jets

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    Russia's Federal Transport Overseeing Service, Rostransnadzor, on Sunday recommended that air carriers put Tu-154B passenger jet out of service until the causes of the explosion onboard of the aircraft of the same type which occurred in Siberia January 1 are not established.

    Russia's Federal Transport Overseeing Service, Rostransnadzor, on Sunday recommended that air carriers put Tu-154B passenger jet out of service until the causes of the explosion onboard of the aircraft of the same type which occurred in Siberia January 1 are not established.

    A Tupolev Tu-154 airliner was engulfed in flames after one of its engines caught fire as the plane taxied down a runway and then exploded on Saturday afternoon at airport of the Siberian city of Surgut. Most of the passengers and the crew were evacuated before the explosion.

    The passenger jet was carrying 116 people, including nine children, eight crewmembers and ten specialists of Kogalymavia, the airline said. Three passengers were killed in the accident and other 43 received injuries.

    "Rostransnadzor has prepared an instruction which recommends air companies suspend flight operations carried out by Tu-154B aircraft until the causes of the plane accident in the Airport of Surgut are not established and measures to abate the risks coming from using this kind of aircraft are not taken," a statement by the watchdog said.

    A spokesman for Rostransnadzor emphasized that the move would not affect the business performance of the air carriers as there are currently only fourteen aircraft of this type in Russia.

    The families of each of the three passengers killed in the explosion will receive 2 million rubles ($65,500) in compensation; those injured will receive up to 2 million rubles depending to the severity of their wounds, the Russian insurance company Sogaz said.

    The Kogalymavia company pledged to pay 20,000 rubles ($654.7) each of the passengers of the ill-fated jet in compensation.

    The administration of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District where the tragedy occurred has already allotted over 10 million rubles ($327,360) to help the families of the victims of the explosion.

    MOSCOW, January 2 (RIA Novosti)

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