Russian airliner catches fire in Siberia

Jan. 1, 2011 at 3:34 PM

MOSCOW, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- At least three people were killed and 43 injured Saturday when a Russian plane bound for Moscow exploded after an emergency landing in Siberia, officials said.

Rosaviatsia, the national air transport agency, said the plane burst into flames after returning to the airport in Surgut when an engine began burning during takeoff, RIA Novosti reported. Most of the 134 people on board were able to escape as the fire consumed the plane, a Russian-made TU-154M operated by Kogalymavia Airlines.

A criminal investigation has been started to determine if fire safety regulations or other laws were broken.

The passengers included Na-Na, a popular music group. One resident of Surgut, writing in a local online forum, said a friend on board the plane told him members of Na-Na were the first to smell something burning.

Surgut is on the Ob River in western Siberia, about 1,000 miles east of Moscow.

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