Thirty-one people were reportedly killed Monday when a passenger plane crashed into a snowy field shortly after takeoff in Siberia, Russia on route to the oil town of Surgut.
There were only 13 survivors among the 44 people on board the flight, including 39 passengers and four crew members, but one died while being transported from the crash site to a local hospital, Reuters reported.
Initial reports revealed that the UTair airlines ATR 72 had snapped in two and plunged deep inside the snow, with only the tail and rear end visible when emergency workers got to the wreckage.
The incident is being blamed on Russia's poor air-safety record, and investigators are citing the most probable cause of the crash as a technical malfunction to the ATR's 21-year-old twin-engine, turbo-prop plane. The plane had apparently been in operation since 1992, had completed 35,000 flight hours, but had not had a thorough check-up since 2010.
According to the airlines, the pilots were trying to make an emergency landing when the plane went down 0.9 miles from the runway.
"I went out on to my porch and heard a bang, saw a small flash and smoke came out. It turned, with smoke coming out, started to lose height and came down in the field. If it had turned a bit further, it would have hit us," said a local resident, identified as Alexei.
"It should have been behind my house but it was in front of it," he added, noting the plane did not appear to be following the usual flight path other planes that passed by his house did.
This was the worst Russian airplane crash since a passenger plane killed 44 people, including the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team, after crashing into a riverbank near the city of Yaroslavl on Sept. 7, 2011.
Russia's air safety record is being cited as a top concern that Vladimir Putin will have to address when he takes over as president in May.