Reports said the Russian Airbus A-310, on a domestic flight from Moscow, failed to stop when it touched down in Irkutsk, Siberia, on Sunday and veered off the runway, crashing into a building and bursting into flames.
Investigators hope that the plane’s “black box” flight recorders, which were flown to Moscow late on Sunday, will yield vital information about what caused the Sibir airlines flight 778 to crash with 204 people on board.
At least 55 people remained in hospital late on Sunday, being treated for burns, trauma and the effects of smoke inhalation. The fate of 12 passengers was unknown.
Many of those on board were children, including 14 pre-teenagers, flying for holidays on Lake Baikal, a popular Siberian spot in summer, media reported.
“It was awful. I saw people burning, they were burning,” Margarita Svetlova, who survived the crash, told Russia‘s First Channel television.
“I probably lost consciousness for a minute … I unfastened my seat belt. I ran and started shouting and swearing, looking for an exit … The inflatable escape chute wouldn’t inflate, but I jumped all the same. I was lucky, I just hurt my leg a bit.”
Sibir airlines published a list of 193 passengers at an emergency Web site, www.bort778.info, but a spokeswoman for Russia‘s Emergencies Ministry said there were three more passengers who were not on Sibir’s official list.
The Ministry plans to reveal the names of the known victims at 0400 Moscow time (midnight GMT), while the airline has offered to fly grieving relatives to Irkutsk on Monday.
Interfax news agency said that measures to identify the bodies of 124 people killed in the crash would begin on Monday morning.
President Vladimir Putin declared Monday a day of mourning.