MOSCOW – A passenger jet carrying at least 155 people made an emergency landing at a snowy Moscow airport on Saturday after its engines failed, Russian officials said. It skidded off the runway and slammed into buildings, killing two people and injuring 83.
The plane, a Tupolev Tu-154 belonging to Dagestan Airlines, was forced to land at Domodedovo Airport, federal aviation agency spokesman Sergei Izvolsky said in televised comments. The cause of the engine failure was unclear, he said.
Officials had said 155 people were on board, but the Emergencies Ministry said in a website statement that the plane was carrying 168 passengers and 8 crew members. It was not immediately possible to resolve the discrepancy.
Izvolsky said the plane had taken off from another Moscow hub, Vnukovo Airport, and was en route to Makhachkala, the capital of Russia's southern region of Dagestan. He said the pilot received signals that engines had cut out about 80 kilometers (50 miles) into the flight at an altitude of 9,100 meters (30,000 feet), and requested an emergency landing at Domodedovo, to the southeast of Moscow.
Federal officials said two people were killed, and Health Minister Tatyana Golikova said in a website statement that 83 injured people were taken to five hospitals.
The federal Investigative Committee said in a website statement that two of the three engines had initially cut out, and the third failed as the plane was coming in to land.
"The plane slid off the runway and collided with buildings," the statement said, without explaining what kind of structures.
Passenger Vitaly Chumak was quoted by Russian news agency Interfax as saying the plane broke into three parts after landing and barely missed a fence.
In September a Tu-154 airliner was carrying 72 passengers and nine crew when it suffered an electrical system failure while flying from the northern Siberian town of Polyarnyi to Moscow. President Dmitry Medvedev bestowed awards on the pilot, who landed the plane and avoided casualties, despite rolling into a forest outside an abandoned military base.
The Tu-154 has been the workhorse of the Soviet and post-Soviet civilian aviation industry, first entering service in the 1970s. But after a series of crashes involving the aging fleet raised safety concerns, flagship carrier Aeroflot recently withdrew all of its Tu-154s from service, with the last flight in January.
The midrange jet remains, however, the mainstay of smaller airlines across Russia and the former Soviet Union. It is banned from parts of Europe due to excessive engine noise.
The plane that crashed in heavy fog earlier this year killing Polish President Lech Kaczynski also was a Tu-154.
On Saturday, Domodedovo Airport switched scheduled flights to a second runway, and normal service was not affected, officials said in televised comments.
(This version CORRECTS Corrects to 83 injured, not 87.)