Five die as Russian plane lands on river

AFP , Monday 11 Jul 2011

At least five people reported to be dead after Russian Angara airline passenger plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Siberia after the plane's engine caught fire

A Russian passenger plane was forced to make an emergency landing on the Ob River in Siberia on Monday, killing at least five people, officials said.

The Antonov-24 belonging to the Angara airline was carrying 33 passengers between Tomsk and Surgut when an engine caught fire forcing it to ditch in the river in the Tomsk region of Siberia, the investigative committee said in a statement.

The regional airline said on its website that the plane's left engine caught fire, forcing it to make the emergency landing. The firm confirmed that there were 33 passengers on board and four crew.

"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.

A spokeswoman for regional investigators told the Interfax news agency that five bodies had been found, all of whom were identified as passengers.

The plane was still floating by Monday afternoon, Russian television reported. The Life News website posted a photograph of the plane lying in shallow water close to the river bank, with its tail section broken off.

A total of 30 people were taken to hospital in the nearby town of Strezhevoi after the emergency landing, the Interfax news agency reported, citing a local administration official.

The head of the town's civilian safety department, Yaroslav Karpenko, told the agency that seven people died, a figure that had not been officially confirmed.

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.

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