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One dead, 18 injured as plane catches fire in Russia

Published: Updated:

One person died -- apparently of a heart attack -- and 18 people sought medical help when a plane skidded off a runway in Russia’s Olympic city of Sochi, slid into a river and caught fire during landing early Saturday, officials said.

The Boeing 737 flying from Moscow with 166 passengers and six crew members overshot a runway as it attempted to land in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, damaged a wing and caught fire.

“As a result of the crash landing at Sochi airport 18 sought medical help,” regional health authorities said. The injured included three children, said investigators, who opened a criminal probe.

During the rescue operation an airport employee died, possibly of a heart attack, a spokeswoman for the Sochi Airport told AFP in a statement.

Sixteen ambulance crews worked at the scene, authorities said, adding that the fire had been put out.

The plane was operated by the Utair airline.

Sochi hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 2014.

The aircraft had landed in heavy rain and with a strong tail wind, Russian civil aviation official Oleg Smirnov told state television channel Rossiya24, which showed images of the aircraft with damaged engines and wings.

Sochi airport said on its website that the aircraft fire that erupted was extinguished in eight minutes and all those on board were evacuated within 17 minutes.

Russian flight safety watchdog will conduct an assessment of Sochi airport and Utair, Rossiya24 channel reported.

Safety concerns have plagued Russia’s airline industry as it has witnessed multiple fatal crashes in recent years.

In June, a Utair plane carrying Peruvian soccer fans from the World Cup city of Ekaterinburg to Tyumen in Siberia had to land due to an engine failure that caused the cabin to fill with smoke.