A Russian airliner carrying eight crew members and 116 passengers has exploded killing three and injuring dozens more. The incident occurred as the Kogalymavia owned Tupolev-154 was taxiing ahead of take-off at Surgut airport in western Siberia. The jet was headed for Moscow.
The explosion occurred after a fire ignited in one of the Tu-154 engines. Pictures taken at the scene show flames and smoke poring from the wreckage. Most of the crew and passengers managed to make it to safety. However, according to emergency workers, 43 passengers suffered injuries, 10 seriously. Although some were treated for burns and broken bones, most were suffering from the effects of inhaling smoke and fumes.
An investigation into how the incident occurred is now underway. A criminal probe is also taking place to find out whether Kogalymavia was in breach of security rules. There have been a number of crashes involving the Tu-154 in recent years. It is an aging plane, having first entered service in the 1970s.
Flag carrier Aeroflot has removed all of its Tu-154s from service, but the aircraft remains popular with a variety of regional carriers. Because of its unacceptable engine-noise levels, the mid-range jet is no longer permitted to fly to many parts of Europe.
On board at the time the fire started was member of the Russian rock band Na-Na, Sergei Grigoriev. He described to news agency ITAR-TASS how the cabin filled with dense smoke causing passengers to panic. He said he saw people clambering over each other and added that he saw his own life flash before him.