Fog suspected in Russia crash

Moscow - A possible failure of communications between the air crew and ground controllers and thick fog could have been contributing factors to a airplane crash in Russia that killed 44 people, airline officials told the Interfax news agency on Tuesday.

Forty-four people died and eight survived when the Russair charter flight crashed overnight in north-western Russia, the Civil Defence Ministry said.

The flight from Moscow crashed about midnight (local time) as it approached its destination of Petrozavodsk, 400km north-east of St Petersburg in Russia's Republic of Karelia, which borders Finland.

The Tupolev Tu-134 with 43 passengers and a crew of nine on board made a hard landing on a highway about a kilometre from the airport at Petrozavodsk, the capital of Karelia, news reports said.

The survivors were hospitalised, authorities said.

"Seven people are in extremely critical condition," said Irina Andrianova, a Russia Emergency Situations Ministry spokesperson. "All the survivors suffered injuries and burns."

One Swedish man was reported among the dead. Russian authorities said eight children were on board.


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