A Russian passenger plane crashed into a snowy field in Siberia shortly after takeoff Monday, killing 31 of the 43 people on board, officials said. The 12 survivors were hospitalized in serious condition.
The ATR-72 turboprop operated by UTair took off at 7:40 a.m. from Tyumen, a regional center in Siberia about 1,700 kilometers (1,000 miles) east of Moscow, heading for the oil town of Surgut, about 650 kilometers (400 miles) away.
The plane came down in a field about three kilometers (two miles) away from the Tyumen airport, breaking into three sections upon impact. Part of it was destroyed by a fire that burned at least six people to death, said Sergei Kiselyov, the police chief at the Roshchino airport in Tyumen.
The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, but investigators said evidence so far points to a technical failure of the French/Italian-made twin-engine aircraft. They noted that witnesses reported seeing smoke coming from its engines as the plane came down and said the pilots had tried to return to the airport.