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Four Die in Plane Crash at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow

Four people were killed today when a plane flying into Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport from the Czech city of Pardubice caught fire after crashing through a runway barrier.

“The plane rolled past the runway while landing and ran into a barrier, damaging a wing and setting it on fire,” Gennady Bogachyov, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said by telephone.

The plane was carrying eight passengers, all crew members. Four of the injured are being treated in Moscow hospitals, Bogachyov said. One of those to die was a 27-year-old woman who succumbed to her injuries after being taken to a city hospital, Interfax reported, citing an unidentified person at the Moscow health department.

The Tupolev Tu-204 mid-range passenger plane was owned by Moscow-based Red Wings Airlines, which was founded by Russian businessman Alexander Lebedev. Calls to Red Wing’s office at Vnukovo Airport weren’t answered.

Moscow’s Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo airports were accepting planes diverted from Vnukovo, Interfax reported. The crash halted traffic on Moscow’s Kievsky highway.

A Tu-204 plane overshot the runway on Dec. 21 at Tolmachevo airport in Novosibirsk because of a malfunction with the brakes, Rosaviatsiya, Russia’s state airline watchdog, said in an e-mailed statement. Rosaviatsiya had warned OAO Tupolev, the manufacturer of the plane, on Dec. 28 about the malfunction, the agency said.

Investigation Ordered

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered an investigation of the crash and named Transportation Minister Maxim Sokolov to head the probe, the government’s official website said.

The prosecutor’s office of the city of Moscow has also opened an investigation against Red Wings Airline, the office said on its website.

Lebedev promised to provide all necessary assistance to families of the plane’s crew, he said in a Twitter posting today. The airplane was insured for $28 million while each crew member was insured for $10,000, OAO Sogaz, the insurer, said in a statement on its website.

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