An airliner careered off a rain-slicked runway, ploughed into garages and burst into flames in the Siberian city of Irkutsk yesterday.
At least 122 people were killed and 58 injured in the accident, the second major commercial airline crash in two months in Russia.
P assengers' relatives streamed to a crisis centre near the Moscow airport where the flight originated. Some stumbled out of the centre in silent shock, others anxiously clung to hope and one woman hurried out ecstatically, exclaiming into her mobile phone that a family friend had survived the disaster.
Preliminary data gathered by the commission investigating the crash indicate that the braking system on the Airbus A-310 operated by Russian airline S7 had failed, Russian news agencies reported, citing unnamed sources.
Airline spokesman Konstantin Koshman said there were 193 passengers, including 14 children under the age of 12, and a crew of eight aboard.
Emergency Ministry spokeswoman Natalia Lukash said three people whose names were not on the passenger list were pulled unconscious from the wreckage; it was not clear if they had been on the ground or were flying as unregistered passengers.
Many of the children were headed to nearby Lake Baikal on vacation, according to Rus-sian news reports.
The plane veered off the runway on landing and tore through a two-metre-high concrete barrier. It then crashed into garages, stopping a short distance from some small houses.
A witness said he heard a crash and the ground trembled.
"I saw smoke coming from the aircraft. People were already walking out who were charred, injured, burnt," Mikhail Yegeryov said.
"I asked a person who was in the Airbus what happened, and he said the plane had landed on the Tarmac but didn't brake. The cabin then burst into flames," Yegeryov said.
Transport Minister Igor Levitin blamed the wet runway.
"The aircraft veered off the runway. There was rain, the landing strip was wet. So we'll have to check the clutch and the technical condition of the aircraft," he told Russian state television.
The Prosecutor General's Office said that investigators considered a technical fault or human error as the two most likely causes of the crash.
K oshman, the airline spokesman, said the plane, which was constructed in 1987, had been regularly maintained and met all certifications.
It took firefighters more than two hours to put out the fire, Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova said. There were two explosions caused by the fuel in the plane.
President Vladimir Putin conveyed his condolences to family and friends of the victims and declared Monday a national day of mourning.
One air stewardess, Viktoria Zilberstein, opened the emergency hatch in the rear of the aircraft and let a number of passengers out.
Ten passengers managed to escape this way and other survivors, including a pilot, were rescued by firefighters and rescuers from the burning wreckage.
The transport minister said the aircraft's two recorders had been recovered and were being deciphered. Levitin added that the pilot had radioed ground control to say the aircraft had landed safely and then communication cut off.
In May, another Airbus aircraft crashed in stormy weather off Russia's Black Sea coast as it prepared to land, killing all 113 people on board. ..SUPL: