Over a dozen injured after plane catches fire in Russian Federation

EAST2WESTNEWS    
     FLAMES The fire could be seen from a great distance

EAST2WESTNEWS FLAMES The fire could be seen from a great distance

At least 18 persons were injured as a plane skidded off the runway and caught fire during landing in Russia's Black Sea resort city of Sochi early on Saturday, a ministry statement said. It crashed through an airport fence and ended up in a dry riverbed.

Some of the injured suffered burns, others carbon monoxide poisoning, officials said.

Russia Today reported that although there were no deaths from the fire, one Sochi airport employee died of a heart attack while responding to the incident.

Image copyright EPA Image caption A Utair Boeing 737-500 landing at Riga in Latvia. "We landed, everyone started clapping - and immediately the left side of the plane caught fire".

A spokesman fro Russia's transport department said: "A criminal investigation has been opened into the emergency landing... on suspicion of inadequate services with a risk to clients' health".

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The cause of the explosion - which could be felt from several kilometres away according to local media - is not now known. Residents within a 20km radius of the site have been advised to keep their doors and windows closed because of the smoke.

The airport said the fire was extinguished within eight minutes and everyone on board was evacuated within 17 minutes.

Last month, a helicopter belonging to Utair crashed in north-western Siberia, killing 18 people.

Safety concerns have plagued Russia's airline industry as it has witnessed multiple fatal crashes in recent years.

It was the third major plane crash in the country since 2015.

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