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article imageThree die as plane catches fire and explodes in Siberian Russia

By Gemma Fox     Jan 1, 2011 in World
Surgut - Three die and many are injured in a fire followed by an explosion on a Russian passenger jet which was due to take off from Surgut in Siberian Russia.
Officials say that 43 people were injured in the incident. There were 124 people on board the flight which was due to take off. It had been due to fly from Surgut to Moscow.
After the initial fire broke out the plane was evacuated and most of the passengers were off the flight before the explosion.
A spokesman for the local emergency services, Vadim Grebennikov, reported that out of the injured 10 were serious, six of them having suffered burns and four suffering from broken bones or other trauma.
Toxic fumes which filled the cabin were blamed for the injuries of most of the others injured. Several were treated for inhalation of the fumes after the fire broke out.
The plane was already taxiing on the runway, about to take off, when one of the engines caught fire. The explosion which followed the fire a short time later destroyed the Tu-154 plane.
Members of Russian pop group, Na-Na, who were popular in the 1990's were among the passengers on the jet. All escaped the jet unhurt but were able to describe the panic which took place on the jet after the outbreak of the fire.
Speaking via telephone to RIA Novosti news agency, one band member, Vladimir Polotov said, "When the engines were started up, something went wrong and the outer covering of the plane caught fire. We had trouble opening the emergency exits and people began to really panic, with some of them running right through the flames."
Singer with the band, Sergei Grigoriyev, spoke of the panic on board with the Itar-Tass news agency. He said, "There was a thick, black smoke and people started to panic. They were literally stepping on each other's heads." He added, "I saw my life flash before me."
The Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft has been in service since the 1970's but recent disasters have seen the Russian national carrier airline Aeroflot discontinue the use of the the jet. In January 2010 they took their remaining 23 Tu-154's out of service.
It's thought that the jet involved in this incident was run by local airline Kogalymavia.
The Tu-154 was in the Russian news last month when, in flight, two of the three aircraft engines failed. The third failed as the pilot attempted an emergency landing. In that incident two people died and 83 were injured.
In April last year Polish president Lech Kaczynski was killed as the jet he was travelling on, a Polish Airforce Tu-154, crashed in Russia killing all on board.
It is not clear what caused the fire to start in this latest disaster involving a Tu-154. An investigation is under way.
More about Russia, Tu-154, Explosion, Kaczynski
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