Russian air crash: Utair jet catches fire after landing at Sochi

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The plane's left engine caught fire after the aircraft left the runway

A passenger jet skidded off the runway and caught fire while landing in the Russian city of Sochi, injuring 18 people, officials have said.

Flight UT579, a Boeing 737-800 operated by the Utair airline, was carrying 164 passengers and six crew from Moscow.

Video shows fierce flames from the aircraft after it crashed through the airport fence and fell into a riverbed.

Some of the injured suffered burns, others carbon monoxide poisoning, officials said.

A spokesperson at Sochi airport said one airport employee had suffered a fatal heart attack during the rescue operation.

The jet was attempting to land in strong wind and heavy rain early on Saturday, Russian media reported.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The plane's final destination - a riverbed next to the airfield

The plane's undercarriage and a wing were damaged when it left the runway and a left engine then caught fire.

Three of the injured are children.

Russia's Investigative Committee has launched a criminal investigation into the incident "on suspicion of inadequate services with a risk to clients' health".

The fatal crash of a Russian airliner at Moscow's Domodedovo airport in February again raised concern about national air safety.

It was the third major plane crash in the country since 2015.