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Ten killed in Russia air crash

Investigators sift through the wreckage at the crash site  

MOSCOW, Russia -- Ten crew members were killed when a cargo plane crashed on takeoff at a military airport outside Moscow, according to Russian authorities.

The plane, which was on a flight to Norilsk in northern Russia, was carrying construction materials, an Emergency Ministry spokesman told Reuters.

The four-engined jet, a workhorse of Russian aviation, crashed on Saturday morning near the Chkalovsky airport, used by the military and the Emergencies Ministry, he added.

Controllers lost contact with the aircraft two minutes after it took off, ITAR-Tass news agency reported. It had reached an altitude of about 150 feet when it crashed about 550 yards from the end of the runway.

The plane had full fuel tanks and a fire broke out after the crash, the report said. Airport firefighters extinguished the blaze after about 40 minutes, ITAR-Tass said.

Recent Russian crashes  

Nearly 300 emergency personnel and firefighters were at the scene of the crash and they had already recovered the aircraft's flight recorders, Interfax news agency said.

The aircraft had been chartered to fly from Moscow to Norilsk, a major nickel producing region in northern Siberia, 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle, a Defence Ministry spokesman told The Associated Press.

A Il-76 cargo jetliner
A Il-76 cargo jetliner similar to the one that crashed near Chkalovsky military airport  

Although it was flying from a military airfield, it was not carrying military cargo, he said. Interfax said the plane was carrying about 40 tonnes of civilian cargo, and speculated that it may have been overloaded when it crashed.

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov was informed about the accident and a commission to investigate the accident has been set up, ITAR-Tass said.

Earlier this month a Russian Tu-154 passenger plane crashed near the Siberian city of Irkutsk, killing 145 people on board.

Russian government investigators blamed pilot error for that accident.

Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said as the plane was making the low-altitude approach to the airport in Irkutsk, the co-pilot jerked the nose up and sent the craft into an uncontrolled, flat spin.

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