Death toll hits 31 in Russia plane crash

April 2, 2012 at 7:27 AM

TYUMEN, Russia, April 2 (UPI) -- A Russian passenger airplane crashed soon after takeoff in western Russia Monday, killing at least 31 people, the emergencies ministry said.

The UTair Airline turboprop ATR-72 airliner carried 39 and four crew and was traveling from the western Siberia city of Tyurmen to Surgut when it went down in near the city of Gorkovka, RIA Novosti reported.

Government officials said all bodies were recovered.

Medical officials said the 12 survivors were hospitalized in serious condition.

The flight recorders were recovered and a team of investigators is at the scene to determine the cause of the crash, RIA Novosti said.

"Investigators consider a technical malfunction in the plane, or an error by ground services or pilots as most likely causes," the Russian Investigation Committee said. "Judging by the nature of the damage to the aircraft, investigators rule out a terrorist attack."

UTair said in a statement the plane was trying to make an emergency landing when it went down less than 2 miles from Tyumen's Roshchino airport.

One witness told RIA Novosti he saw smoke from the aircraft's twin engines as it fell while another witness said he heard a loud noise and saw a flash before the plane crashed.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane soon after it left the airport, a Federal Air Transport Agency spokesman said.

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