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(Reuters) - A passenger plane ran off an airport runway outside Moscow on Saturday and caught fire, the Interfax news agency reported, citing police. There was no immediate word on the type of plane or how many people were aboard. An initial report from Interfax said the plane had landed hard on a highway.
One of those critically injured, a 27-year-old woman, died while being taken to hospital. The captain and co-pilot are also among those killed, reports Interfax citing sources
Preliminary reports say the jet, which belongs to Russian low-cost airline Red Wings, crashed after taking a second landing attempt. It rolled out from the runway into Kievskoye Highway, fell into three pieces and caught fire.
Media allege that Vnukovo firefighting cars were on repair so the first emergency crews appeared on the scene no earlier than 50 minutes after the blaze broke out.
At least four Russians died today when a passenger airliner overshot a runway and broke into pieces at a Moscow airport. Officials said up to eight people were on board the Tupolev-204 - flight number RWZ9268 - as it rolled off the runway at Vnukovo airport and burst through a perimeter fence onto a highway. State television news channel Vesti showed a photo of the wrecked plane's fuselage with the livery of the low-cost Russian Red Wings airline. Its nose, including the cockpit area, appeared sheared off.
Two people were found dead at the scene, while a third victim, a 27-year-old woman, died on the way to hospital. Three others were severely injured. The captain and co-pilotwere among those killed, reported Interfax. Interior Ministry officials believe the cause of the crash could be pilot error. Light snow was falling in Moscow at the time. The plane was flying in from Pardubice, in the Czech Republic after dropping off tourists and then returning to its home Moscow base with just crew on board.
The crash during peak holiday travel ahead of Russia's New Year's vacation, which runs from Sunday through Jan. 9, cast a spotlight on Russia's poor air-safety record despite President Vladimir Putin's calls to improve controls.