Air Plane Crash puts Russia's Airline Industry in spotlight




A Russian airliner flying without passengers broke into pieces after it slid off the runway and crashed onto a highway outside Moscow upon landing on Saturday, killing four of the eight crew on board and leaving smoking chunks of fuselage on the icy road.


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The crash during peak holiday travel ahead of Russia's New Year's vacation, which runs from Sunday through Jan. 9, cast a spotlight on the country's poor air safety record despite President Vladimir Putin's calls to improve controls.

Television footage showed the Tupolev Tu-204 jet with smoke billowing from the tail end and the cockpit broken clean off the front.

Some witnesses told state channel Rossiya-24 they saw a man thrown from the plane as it rammed into the barrier of the highway outside Vnukovo airport, just southwest of the capital, and another described pulling other people from the wreckage.

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"The plane split into three pieces," Yelena Krylova, chief spokeswoman for the airport, said in televised comments.

Police spokesman Gennady Bogachyov said: "The plane went off the runway, broke through the barrier, and caught fire."

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The pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, and a flight attendant were killed and the other four crew members aboard – all flight attendants – were in a serious condition in the hospital with head injuries, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

Officials said earlier that there were 12 crew on board.

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