Four people killed as plane crashes off runway in MoscowMonday 31 December 2012 15.26
A Russian airliner split into pieces after it slid off the runway and crashed onto a highway outside Moscow, killing four of the 12 crew on board.
The crash happened during peak holiday travel ahead of Russia's New Year's vacation and has cast a spotlight on Russia's poor air-safety record despite President Vladimir Putin's calls to improve controls.
Television footage showed the Tupolev Tu-204 jet, broken into pieces, with smoke billowing from the tail end and the cockpit broken clean off the front.
An Emergency Services spokesperson said four people died of injuries after the crash and four others were in hospital.
Police said 12 crew members were on board, but no passengers.
"The plane went off the runway, broke through the barrier and caught fire," police spokesman Gennady Bogachyov said.
The mid-range Tu-204 was operated by the Russian airline Red Wings and travelling from the Czech Republic.
Rubble from the crash was scattered across the highway and the plane's wings were torn from the fuselage, witnesses said.
Russian investigators said preliminary findings pointed to pilot error as the cause of the crash.
Russia and other former Soviet republics had some of the world's worst air-traffic safety records last year, with a total accident rate almost three times the world average, the International Air Transport Association said.
A passenger jet crashed and burst into flames after takeoff in Siberia in April, killing 31 people, and an airliner slammed into a riverbank in September 2011, wiping out the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team in a crash that killed 44 people.