An Aeroflot commercial jet with 88 people on board has crashed in Russia with no survivors.
The Boeing 737 went down as it was getting ready to land in the Siberian city of Perm, some 1,200 kilometers east of Moscow.
Though the reasons of the crash have not yet been determined, the accident provides a new measure of how increasingly unsafe Russian civil aviation has become.
"The plane, flying from Moscow to Perm, took off from Moscow's Sheremetovo Airport at 12 a.m. At 3:13, as the plane was flying at 1,800 meters, all contact was lost," Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova announced.
"The plane crashed in southwestern Perm, in an unpopulated area. No wreckage or bodies have been found on the ground. The plane exploded on impact and caught fire. At 4:50 the blaze was extinguished. All people on board the plane, 82 passengers, and six crew members, were killed. More than 400 firefighters and rescuers are now at the accident site."
She said there was no indication of terrorism in the crash.
Russian officials say passengers included nationals from Azerbaijan, Ukraine, France, Switzerland, Latvia, the United States, Germany, Turkey, and Italy.
The Interfax news agency reported that investigators had found the plane's "black box" flight recorders and were working to analyze them. The airplane had been leased by Aeroflot from a Dublin-based company, Pinewatch Limited, in late July until March 2013.
A spokesman for the national railroad company, Aleksandr Buratayev, said that a part of the trans-Siberian railway was also shut down as a result of rail damage caused by the crash.
According to the International Air Transport Association, Russia has one of the world's worst air-traffic safety records. There were 33 Russian aviation accidents last year, which left 318 people dead, a sixfold increase over 2005.
Experts have blamed weak government controls, poor pilot training, and a cost-cutting mentality among many carriers.
Russian planes are old. The air-safety commission announced in January that the average age of the country's international airliners was 18 years, and its regional jets 30.
This crash was the second involving a Boeing 737 in the former Soviet Union in the past month. A Boeing flying from Kyrgyzstan to Iran crashed shortly after takeoff on August 24, killing 64 of the 90 people on board. The pilot of that plane has been detained in connection with the investigation.
with agency reporting
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