Footage of the wreckage taking in the aftermath of the crash
Demola Ojo with agency reports
A passenger airliner skidded off the runway while landing yesterday at Russia’s third-busiest airport, slid partially onto a highway, broke into pieces and caught fire, killing at least four people. Eight people were on board the Tu-204 belonging to Russian airline, Red Wings, that was flying back from the Czech Republic without passengers to its home at Vnukovo Airport, officials said.
Four people were killed and another four severely injured when the plane rolled off the runway into a snowy field and partly onto an adjacent highway, then disintegrated, emergency officials said in a televised news conference.
No collisions with vehicles on the major, multi-lane highway were reported. The plane’s cockpit area was torn off from the fuselage and a large chunk gashed out near the tail.
The crash occurred amid light snow and winds gusting up to 55 km/h, but other details were not immediately known. Initial indications were that pilot error was the cause, said Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia’s top investigative agency.
The state news agency , RIA Novosti, cited an unidentified official at the Russian Aviation Agency as saying another Red Wings Tu-204 had gone off the runway at the international airport in Novosibirsk in Siberia on December 20.
That incident, in which no one was injured, was due to the failure of the plane’s engines to go into reverse upon landing and its brake system malfunctioned. Prior to yesterday’s crash, there had been no fatal accidents reported for Tu-204s, which entered commercial service in 1995. The plane is a twin-engine midrange jet with a capacity of about 210 passengers. Vnukovo, on the southern outskirts of Moscow, is one of the Russian capital’s three international airports.