Passenger jet crashes in Russia, 44 dead

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Russian Tu-134 passenger jet crashed in heavy fog on a highway not far from the airport of Petrozavodsk, in northwestern Russia. 44 out of 52 people on board died in the crash. Eight survivors were rushed to Petrozavodsk hospitals. All reportedly are in critical condition.

The Tu-134 aircraft that belonged to the RusAir airline, was en route from Moscow to Petrozavodsk. According to the reports, for the reasons yet unknown, the aircraft that was initially to fly to Petrozavodsk has been replaced with a different one, just before the departure from Moscow. RusAir insists that the substitute jet was in perfect mechanical condition.

Due to heavy fog the plane was not able to make it to Petrozavodsk airport landing strip and attempted to land on local highway, less than a mile away from the airport. During the hard landing the aircraft broke apart and burst into flames.

According to the Russian news agencies, Russian Premier League soccer referee Vladimir Pettay and a Swedish citizen were among the victims.