Russia mourns victims of Siberian plane crash that killed 131 passengers

Rescuers managed to establish a connection with several passengers of the A-310 jetliner that crashed in Irkutsk, Siberia, on Sunday. The fate of those passengers was unknown after the crash.

“They called the emergency headquarters and said that they had left the plane themselves,” a spokesman for the headquarters in Irkutsk said.

The A-310 plane of Sibir airline flying from Moscow to Irkutsk skidded off a rain-slicked runway on Sunday morning and plowed through a concrete barrier, bursting into flames.

According to the latest information, at least 131 people have been killed in the accident, 71 other passengers have been hospitalized. A special group of experts will have to identify other passengers, whose body fragments were found on the scene.

A criminal case has been filed on the fact of the air crash in Irkutsk, Siberia.

The majority of those who survived the emergency landing were staying in the rear part of the plane. The jetliner was carrying 204 people on board, including eight crewmembers.

A large number of rumours appeared soon after the accident. Some survivors said that they had seen a pilot getting out of the cockpit and running away from the plane before it exploded. For the time being it is impossible either to identify the person or simply confirm that some of the pilots survived.

Rescuers have found the bodies of 122 passengers - over a hundred of them have been identified. Seventy other people were injured. Only three crewmembers, air hostesses, survived in the crash.

There were 14 children on board the A-310 jetliner, all of them under 12 years of age. Six of the children have been saved. There were also foreign passengers on board: residents of Germany, China, Poland, Azerbaijan and Belarus. Seven of them have been lucky to stay alive.

“When we landed it seemed that the pilot was not going to hit the brakes,” Tomasz Gorzikiewicz, a national of Poland said. The man was flying from Poland to Irkutsk via Moscow for a trip to Mongolia. “The engines started roaring loudly, and the plane gathered speed. It seemed that the plane was going to take off again, but it didn’t happen. Several seconds later the plane started shaking all over: the concrete runway ended. The liner was taking a turn to the right and then we heard a crashing sound. We could see from the viewports that the plane ran into some buildings – garages or warehouses,” the man said.

The first obstacle on the way of the plane racing along the runway at the speed of 100 km/h was a concrete wall surrounding the airport. The concrete slabs did not stop the plane: the passengers could only feel a slight shake when the 100-ton machine was plowing through the concrete barrier. After that the plane slammed into a garage complex, adjacent to the airport.

“The blow destroyed the cockpit and the business class saloon of the plane,” rescuers said. The plane was not damaged much at that moment; it was not burning. Its front part was crumpled up like paper, and its hull and wings were resting on garage roofs,” the rescuers added.

The passengers staying in the rear part of the jetliner managed to open an emergency exit. The people could not use the inflatable ladder properly so they had to jump out of the plane. Many suffered bone fractures as they were landing on the ruined garages.

Dozens of other passengers left the plane when the first rescue team arrived. Those who managed to avoid serious injuries thought that they would help other survivors, but the plane exploded. There was about one ton of kerosene on board the plane.

“The explosion of the first fuel tank immediately destroyed the hull and the wings of the plane. A wall of fire appeared around the hull, and another powerful explosion sounded a moment later,” one of the rescuers said.

While firefighters were trying to extinguish the raging fire with foam, rescuers were looking for the passengers.

July 10 has been declared the mourning day in Russia. President Putin presented his condolences to relatives and friends of those who lost their loved ones in the tragic air crash in Irkutsk . Flags will fly at half-mast; TV and radio companies will cancel their entertainment programs.

Based on Russian media news reports

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov