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Tuesday, December 16, 1997 Published at 13:31 GMT



World

Tajik airliner crashes in UAE
image: [ Plane crashed on approach to airport ]
Plane crashed on approach to airport

A Tajik airliner with nearly 90 people on board has crashed into the desert as it came in to land at Sharjah airport, in the United Arab Emirates.

Reports from the scene say there is only one survivor, who is critically injured.


The BBC's Shahnaz Pakravan in Dubai: Fears it was mechanical fault or a fuel shortage (Dur: 2'43")
The plane was a Russian-made Tupolev Tu-154. Smoke rose from the twisted metal and wreckage in the desert.

Two of the plane's tyres lay in the sand, which covered parts of the airliner.


[ image: Wreckage was strewn across the desert]
Wreckage was strewn across the desert
Rescue workers wearing masks set up flood lights to work in the dark. Bodies, some of them charred, were carried away on stretchers. Other workers carried white plastic body bags.

Local officials say the cause of the crash is a mystery. Weather conditions were good, and there was no indication from the crew that anything was amiss.

However, some reports suggest that the plane appeared to explode in mid-air before crashing to the ground.

Another theory is that it may have leaked fuel, and was unable to reach the runway in time.

The plane, belonging to the Tajik government airline Tajikavia, is believed to have been carrying 77 passengers and nine crew members.

All those on board are said to be Tajiks, who were on their way to the Gulf for shopping and business.

There is a fair amount of air traffic between Tajikistan and the UAE because the wealthy Gulf state serves as a base for international oil companies exploring options for business in Central Asian countries.

Concern over safety record

The Tupolev Tu-154 is one of the most popular of contemporary Russian airliners and resembles the Boeing 727.

Several have been involved in a number of deadly accidents in recent years.


[ image: 1996 Spitsbergen crash killed 141 people.]
1996 Spitsbergen crash killed 141 people.
Some aviation officials have contended that the aircraft, the workhorse of airlines of the former Soviet Union, is an unsafe plane.

A Tu-154 crashed into a mountain on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in August 1996, killing 141 people.

In December 1995, all 97 aboard a Tu-154 died in a crash in Russia's Far East.

A January 1994 crash in Siberia killed all 125 aboard. Six months later a Chinese-owned Tu-154 crashed in Xian, killing all 160 people aboard.

More than 1,000 Tu-154 have been built and most remain active. Although used successfully by Aeroflot and many former Soviet bloc airlines, it cannot compete commercially with more modern Western equivalents.


 





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