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Three killed as Russia jet explodes

Three people have died after a passenger plane caught fire and then exploded on a runway at a Siberian airport, Russian officials said.

Forty-three people were injured, 10 of them seriously.

Emergency services spokesman Vadim Grebennikov said the fire, which began in one of the engines as the plane taxied for take-off, caused a powerful blast which destroyed the Tu-154 aircraft and spread flames across 1,000 square metres (11,000 square feet).

Most of the passengers and crew were evacuated before the explosion. Mr Grebennikov said 10 people were seriously injured, including six who were badly burned and four who suffered broken bones or other trauma.

Most of the other injured passengers sought treatment for poisoning after inhaling toxic fumes.

There were 124 people on board the stricken jet.

Russian television showed video taken with a mobile telephone of the burning plane, its centre a giant fireball. All that remained afterwards was the tail section and part of a wing.

The plane, which belonged to the regional Kogalymavia airline, was flying from the western Siberian town of Surgut to Moscow.

Among the passengers were members of the Russian pop group Na-Na, who described the panic on board the plane.

"When the engines were started up, something went wrong and the outer covering of the plane caught fire," group member Vladimir Politov told a news agency by phone. "We had trouble opening the emergency exits and people began to really panic, with some of them running right through the flames."

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