Russia mourns air crash as child survivor dies

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Russians left flowers and toys Wednesday at the site of its latest air crash that killed 45 people, including a child survivor who died of his injuries overnight.

Members of the public laid flowers, candles and handwritten cards at the site of the air crash on a highway, Russian television showed, as the northern Karelia region lowered its flags for three days of official mourning.

The latest victim of the air crash was a young boy, Anton Terekhin, who was hospitalised with severe injuries in the crash. In conflicting reports, emergency officials said he was believed to be nine or 10.

"Anton Terekhin died last night. He had grave injuries," spokeswoman for regional health ministry, Elena Kokovurova, told AFP.

The boy's sister, Anastasia Terekhina, was also among the eight initial survivors and was transported to Moscow for medical treatment on Tuesday, Kokovurova said.

The children were travelling with their mother, Oksana Terekhina, listed among the dead in a list released by the emergency ministry on Wednesday.

The RusAir Tupolev 134 plane was flying from Moscow's Domodedovo airport to Petrozavodsk, the largest city in Karelia, and crashed onto a highway short of the airport runway, bursting into flames.

The force of the impact and exploding fuel scattered fragments of the plane and charred bodies over hundreds of metres, while the plane narrowly missed a nearby village, whose residents helped in the rescue operation.

Investigators from the Moscow-based inter-state air commission were studying the plane's black boxes, located at the scene, and said it was too early to jump to conclusions.

But Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said the crash appeared to be the result of an error by the pilot who tried to spot the runway visually in bad weather and failed.

"He did not land on the runway, but to the right," Russian news agencies quoted Ivanov, the government's aviation pointman, as saying on the sidelines of the Paris airshow.

He said that the crew had "until the last moment looked for the runway visually but did not see it."

News website quoted the air traffic controller on duty as saying the pilot was advised not to land in the bad weather conditions but had attempted the landing despite the warning.

On Wednesday, rescuers had finished clearing the debris and removed the tape around the scene, allowing members of the public to lay flowers, television reported.

A Swedish national, a Dutch citizen and two Ukrainians were among the dead, as well as a family of four with dual Russian and US citizenship, the emergencies ministry said on its website.

The Russians who died included a well-known football referee, Vladimir Pettai, and six nuclear energy experts.

The crash was the latest in a series of accidents involving Russia's ageing fleet of planes, with the Soviet-era Tupolev jets having a particularly poor safety record.

© 2011 AFP

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