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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 July 2006, 22:00 GMT 23:00 UK
Russian plane's 'brakes failed'
Crash site in Siberia
The jet hit a building, broke up and burst into flames

A failure of brakes on a wet runway was the possible cause of the Russian jet crash in Siberia which killed at least 122 people, initial reports suggest.

The S7 Airlines plane from Moscow ran out of control after landing at Irkutsk on Sunday morning and hit a building.

Latest reports say 70 of the 204 on board survived - 12 are still missing.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences to the families of the dead and called for a national day of mourning on Monday.

Many of the passengers were travelling to the nearby popular holiday destination of Lake Baikal. Eight of those confirmed dead are children.

The airline said one German, an Azeri and three Chinese were among the dead.

Thrust reverser

The A-310 - operated by S7, known until recently as Sibir Airlines - overshot the runway, crashing through a concrete wall and hitting a building close to the airfield.

Crash survivor Margarita Svetlova
It was terrible, really terrible because people were shouting, people were on fire
Margarita Svetlova, crash survivor

It then broke up and burst into flames.

Transport Minister Igor Levitin said the pilots had reported a successful landing to air traffic controllers but then contact was lost.

An unnamed official told RIA-Novosti news agency that the plane's hydraulic braking system appeared to have failed.

"The information we have shows that after landing, when the plane put on the thrust reverser, there was a failure in the braking system that led other mechanisms in the system to break down," he said.

The deputy director of the Gromov Flight Research Institute, Anatoly Kochur, agreed that failure of the reverser was the most likely cause of the crash.

Moisture on the runway may have compounded the problem rendering the plane in effect uncontrollable, he told Interfax news agency.

The cause of the crash would be established for sure after examination of the two flight recorders, officials said.

Burns victims

The cabin was wrecked and passengers had to be evacuated via the rear of the aircraft.

Ten of them leapt from the plane after a stewardess opened an emergency exit. Others were brought out by rescuers.

Most of those treated in hospital had suffered burns.


"It was terrible, really terrible because people were shouting, people were on fire," said crash survivor Margarita Svetlova.

"Someone shouted that it was all going to blow up. So I ran out of fear, I ran out," she told Russia's Channel One Europe TV.

The fire took three hours to put out, authorities said.

Irkutsk airport was the scene of another fatal crash, in July 2001, when a Tu-154 plane fell to the ground on its final approach, killing all 145 on board. Authorities blamed pilot error.

In pictures: Siberian plane crash
09 Jul 06 |  In Pictures
Air disasters timeline
03 May 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Russia
03 Jul 06 |  Country profiles

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