A Russian bomber crashed while trying to land in an Arctic blizzard Tuesday, killing three people and leaving one in critical condition.
The supersonic Russian Tu-22M3 was conducting a training exercise near the Olenya airbase in northern Russia. Aviation experts say it's likely that a vertical wind gust hit the plane.
Witnesses described seeing the long-range bomber exploding and breaking apart while still in the air. Emergency responders were called to extinguish a "major fire" at the scene, according to CNN.
The bomber was reportedly not carrying any weapons during the crash. The model is one that has been in effect since the days of the Soviet Union. It can fly at up to 1,500 mph and can hit targets 4,350 miles from its base.
After the plane crashed, two of its crew were declared dead at the scene, while the two others were rushed to the hospital. One hospitalized man, the flighter commander, later succumbed to his injuries. The fourth is said to be in "grave condition."
The storm is said to be one that only occurs in the Arctic, and accelerates hard and fast when it hits unpredictably.
The loss comes nearly one year after a Russian passenger jet exploded into a fireball just moments after takeoff, killing all 71 people aboard.