Developing

Russia Crash Plane Was 'Vertical' On Impact

Russia's transport minister says a plane that crashed at Kazan airport, killing everybody on board including a British woman, was "vertical" when it hit the runway and exploded.

Forty-four passengers and six crew members were killed when the Boeing 737-500 airliner crashed on Sunday evening.

The Tatarstan Airlines flight from Moscow was trying to abort its landing in order to make a second approach when it struck the runway and exploded.

Transport minister Maxim Sokolov said the plane appeared to fall out of the sky.

"The plane simply fell. It went vertically into the ground. After the plane hit the ground there was an explosion," he was quoted as saying by the state RIA Novosti news agency in Kazan.

Mr Sokolov cited security footage that shows the plane at its point of impact.

British woman Donna Bull, an A-levels programme manager at Bellerbys College in Cambridge, was killed in the crash, along with her Moscow-based colleague, Yana Baranova. The pair were heading to Kazan for a 10-day marketing trip.

The UK Foreign Office confirmed the death and said it was providing consular assistance.

Ms Bull was described by her employer as a "very popular and well-respected member of staff".

Also among the dead was the son of the leader of the Tatarstan region, Irek Minnikhanov, and the head of Russia's FSB security service in Tatarstan, Alexander Antonov.

The plane took off from Moscow's Domodedovo airport at 6.25pm local time and crashed just over an hour later.

According to eyewitnesses, the Boeing lost altitude quickly and its fuel tank exploded on impact.

There were high winds and cloudy skies over the airport in central Russia at the time of the crash.

Boeing officials at the Dubai Airshow declined to comment on the crash.

The flight was operated by the regional Tatarstan airline, according to a spokeswoman from Russia's Emergencies Ministry.

Kazan, which is 500 miles east of Moscow, is the capital of the oil-rich region of Tatarstan.

A new runway was built at the airport ahead of the World Student Games, held in the city earlier this year.

A spokesman for state aviation oversight agency Rosaviatsia said authorities would search for the flight recorders.

Russia and the former Soviet republics combined had one of the world's worst air traffic safety records in 2011, with a total accident rate almost three times the world average, according to the International Air Transport Association.

IATA said last year that global airline safety had improved, but accident rates had risen in Russia and the ex-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States.

In April 2012, at least 31 people were killed when a Russian passenger plane crashed shortly after take-off in Siberia.