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Russian plane crashes, 49 on board
Russian plane crashes, 49 on board
Wednesday, March 16, 2005 Posted: 9:03 AM EST (1403 GMT)

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Many are feared dead after a Russian plane with 49 people aboard crashed as it tried to make an emergency landing in Russia's far north, according to reports.

The Interfax news agency said 45 passengers and four crew members were aboard the An-24 two-engine aircraft when it crashed Wednesday near Varandei in the Nenets autonomous region off Russia's Arctic coast.

There are conflicting reports on the number of possible facilities in crash.

"According to preliminary figures, 45 passengers and four crew were killed," Reuters quoted the Transport Ministry as saying.

However, CNN's Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty said there are other reports that "perhaps 23 of those 49 are thought to be alive."

"We can confirm that those on board were oil workers for Lukoil, the Russian oil company," Dougherty said.

Rescue crews are trying to access the remote area by helicopter.

The two-engine aircraft banked and crashed while making a final approach to landing, Nail Gabdulin, a spokesman for Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.

The plane departed from the city of Ufa in southern Siberia and made several stopovers on its way to Varandei, about 1,110 miles northeast of Moscow, said Transport Ministry spokesman Timur Khikmatov.

The An-24 is a Soviet-designed turboprop airliner for short and medium lines which was built in the 1960s. Hundreds are still in service with airlines in Russia and other ex-Soviet republics.
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