Aviation News

December 31, 2012

Moscow Plane Crash Death Toll Rises to 5

Wreckage of Red Wings Airlines Flight 9268. (Photo by Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations)

A woman who was critically injured on Saturday when a Russian airliner overran a runway and crashed onto a highway near Moscow has died of her injuries, doctors said on Sunday. Three other crew members remain in a critical but stable condition.

The 25-year-old flight attendant had been hospitalized in a critical condition at Moscow’s City Clinical Hospital 7, where she underwent surgery and was put on a ventilator. She never regained consciousness and died on Sunday despite the efforts to save her life, Russia’s Ministry of Healthcare said.

Three other crew members who survived Saturday’s crash-landing remain in hospital in a critical but stable condition. One of the victims, a 26-year-old man, earlier underwent vertebral surgery and has since regained consciousness. “He has been taken from the ventilator and is now breathing on his own,” a healthcare ministry official said.

The two other victims, a 26-year-old woman and a 32-year-old man, remain at City Clinical Hospital 1 in Moscow. “The woman, who has been given anti-shock and other medication, is conscious and is in a serious but stable condition,” the official said. The man was also in a serious but stable condition, and doctors described seeing a “positive trend” in his medical condition.

The accident happened at 4:35 p.m. local time on Saturday when Red Wings Airlines flight 9268, a Tupolev Tu-204 aircraft which is capable of carrying more than 200 people, was attempting to land at Vnukovo International Airport just outside of Moscow. It was carrying eight crew members but no passengers.

Authorities said the aircraft was attempting to land amidst snowy weather at Vnukovo International Airport after a flight from an airport in Pardubice, the capital of the Pardubice Region in the Czech Republic. Photos and video from the scene showed the plane had overshot the runway, broke through a fence and crashed into an adjacent highway where several cars were hit by debris.

Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal investigation into the cause of the crash-landing, citing possible violations of safety rules. Such an investigation is standard procedure after aviation accidents in Russia, and authorities said they would consider all possible causes, including pilot error, bad weather, and technical failure of the aircraft.

“As soon as the conditions of the injured crew members have stabilized, they will be questioned,” a spokesperson for Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Monday. He said investigators are also examining the plane’s flight recorders and radio communications between pilots and air traffic control.

Russia has seen a number of major aviation accidents over the last few years, in part because of its use of old aircraft, although industry experts also point to other problems such as poor crew training, out-of-date airports, lax government controls, and neglect of safety to maximize profits.

In April, a passenger plane operated by UTair Aviation crashed shortly after takeoff from an airport in Siberia, killing 32 people and injuring 11 survivors. It followed the crash of a Yak-Service Airlines plane in Yaroslavl Oblast in September 2011, killing all but one of the 37 passengers and 8 crew members on board. Among those killed were players and coaching staff of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl professional ice hockey team.

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