MOSCOW — An Aeroflot jetliner with 51 people aboard crashed and burst into flames Saturday while attempting to land in the Siberian town of Surgut, the official Tass news agency said.
The TU-134 was carrying 45 passengers and six crew members, according to Tass, but there was no word on how many were killed and injured in the crash, which occurred at mid-morning in Surgut.
The Soviet news agency did confirm that there were deaths and said that most of the survivors appeared to have been badly burned.
It was the third fatal Aeroflot crash reported inside the Soviet Union in six weeks.
Tass quoted a regional civil aviation official as saying the jet "fell within the airfield boundaries, broke up and caught fire" at the city of Surgut, an oil and petrochemical center about 1,400 miles east of Moscow.
Jet Suddenly Lost Power
The pilot either misjudged distances or the engines failed on final approach because the aircraft suddenly lost power and fell just short of the runway, Tass said.
The aircraft skidded onto the runway and began to disintegrate before bursting into flames. Fire engines and rescue vehicles were at the crash site within two minutes and were giving first aid to the injured, according to Tass.
The news agency said that 15 ambulances ferried the injured to two regional hospitals and eight doctors, including a team of burn specialists, were flown in from the regional center of Tyumen.
"The weather this morning was good, communications with the plane solid," Tass quoted one official as saying.
Originated in Minsk
The plane's 1,600-mile flight originated in the Byelorussian capital of Minsk.
The TU-134 is a twin-turbofan plane designed for medium-range flights and can carry as many as 96 passengers, according to Jane's All the World's Aircraft.
The cause of the crash is under investigation by a special government commission, Tass said.
On Jan. 18, a TU-154 passenger jet crashed on landing at the Caspian Sea port of Krasnovodsk, and Soviet media said 11 people were killed and 12 hurt.
Those media reports, which were issued on the day of the crash, mark the first time the state-run Soviet press and broadcast media reported on a domestic air accident the same day it occurred.
On Jan. 25, an Aeroflot Yakovlev-40 passenger plane crashed near the airport in the Siberian city of Nizhnevartovsk. Tass at the time said the crash caused "loss of life," but did not say how many people had died.