At least 31 people were killed after a Russian passenger plane crashed whilst trying to make an emergency landing shortly after take-off near the western Siberian city of Tyumen on Monday, the emergencies ministry said, according to RIA Novosti.
All the crew members were among the dead, but twelve survivors were taken to hospital. There were no children on board, police said.
According to initial reports, there were 39 passengers and four crew on board the turboprop ATR-72 airliner which was operated by UTair airline. The aircraft was bound for the oil town of Surgut.
UTair said the aircraft was trying to perform an emergency landing when it went down some three kilometers from Tyumen`s Roshchino airport.
Air traffic controllers lost radio contact with the ATR-72 aircraft within minutes after take-off, a spokesman for the Federal Air Transport Agency told the PRIME news agency.
The airline has three ATR planes made by the French-Italian manufacturer ATR, according to its website.
The cause of the crash is not clear. The flight recorders have been recovered and a team of investigators has flown to the scene from Moscow.
Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin cited mistakes by ground services as one of the possible reasons for the crash.
A criminal investigation has been launched into the incident.
The plane should have been carrying 40 passengers as one person arrived late for the flight, Tyumen deputy prosecutor Valentin Tarasov said.
The crash is Russia`s deadliest air accident since a chartered jet crashed on take-off near the central city of Yaroslavl in September last year, wiping out most players from the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team.
President Dmitry Medvedev demanded a drastic cut in the number of donestic airlines following the September disaster and promised to overhaul Russia`s aviation industry.