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Russia Orders Tu-154B Flights Halted While Blast Investigated

Jan. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Russia’s transportation watchdog ordered all Tupolev-154B aircraft grounded until the cause of a fatal passenger jet explosion and fire in Siberia is determined.

There are 14 Tu-154Bs in operation in Russia, state-controlled RIA Novosti reported today, citing an unidentified official from the transportation watchdog. It was a Kogalymavia Airlines Tu-154B that exploded in Surgut, Siberia yesterday, killing three people and injuring at least 30.

A team of specialists are reviewing the flight data from the plane’s black boxes, the Interstate Aviation Committee said in a statement on its website.

The aircraft, carrying 116 passengers and eight crew members, exploded on the runway after one of its engines caught fire while the plane was taxiing for a departure to Moscow.

Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal probe, it said in a statement on its website.

The Tu-154 is one of the most popular aircraft models in Russia. There are two generations of the jet operating, the 154B and the 154M. More than 900 Tu-154s have been produced over 40 years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at iarkhipov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Willy Morris at wmorris@bloomberg.net

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