Five die as Russian plane lands on river

11th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Russian passenger plane was forced to make an emergency landing on a Siberian river on Monday, killing at least five, and prompting President Dmitry Medvedev to call for the Soviet plane to be banned.

The Antonov-24 belonging to the Angara airline was carrying 37 passengers and crew between Tomsk and Surgut when an engine caught fire, forcing it to ditch in the Ob river in the Tomsk region of Siberia, the investigative committee said in a statement.

"According to preliminary information, five people died and the fate of two more is unknown," investigators said, adding that the passengers included a baby.

"The crew said an engine was on fire and announced on the radio their intention to make an emergency landing," a spokesman for the Russian civil aviation agency, Sergei Izvolsky, told AFP.

"As a result, the plane received considerable damage, with the tail ripped off and the fuselage damaged," the regional transport prosecutors said in a statement.

Rescuers had pulled out five bodies from the plane, all of them passengers, the prosecutors said in a statement.

On Monday afternoon, the plane was still lying in shallow water close to the river bank, with its tail section broken off, Russian television reported.

There were 35 confirmed casualties, including five dead, as divers searched for the bodies of two more missing in the section underwater, the emergencies minister Sergei Shoigu told Medvedev, the Interfax news agency reported.

Medvedev said in televised comments that the Antonov-24 plane should be subject to the same measures as another Soviet airliner, the TU-134, which he ordered last month to be withdrawn by 2012 after a deadly crash.

"Everything I said recently about the TU-134 is just as applicable to the AN-24," Medvedev said.

"Since we are changing our fleet of planes, I suggest the same approach should be applied to the AN-24," he said, while calling for a total transport review due to the Volga tour boat accident on Sunday that left 100 people missing and presumed dead.

The AN-24 plane is a plane used for transport and regional airlines, which has been in service since the early 1960s. The last plane was built in 1979, but several hundred remain in service in the ex-Soviet Union and Africa.

The crash comes less than a month after 47 people died when a Tupolev 134 plane crashlanded onto a highway in the northern region of Karelia on June 20 after the pilot apparently missed the runway in bad weather.

© 2011 AFP

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