2 Accidents Snarl Downtown Traffic

A local businessman was killed Monday morning after his Opel Astra hatchback collided with a KamAZ truck in one of two accidents that snarled traffic in central Moscow.

The businessman steered his Opel into oncoming traffic at around 8 a.m. near Krymsky Most, between the Park Kultury and Oktyabrskaya metro stations on the Garden Ring Road, witnesses told Rossia television.

Both vehicles then burst into flames, and the KamAZ driver rushed to pull the Opel driver out of the burning wreckage, the witnesses said. The Opel driver was declared dead at the scene.

The web site Life.ru identified the deceased man as Alexander Konstantinov, 36, owner of a chain of car dealerships. He is survived by a wife and two young sons, the web site reported.

A traffic police official said Opel was attempting a U-turn when the KamAZ slammed into the side of the car, RIA-Novosti reported. A passenger riding in the Opel was hospitalized, the news agency said.

Fire crews arrived at the scene 10 minutes after the accident to extinguish the flames, Rossia television reported.

Television footage from the scene showed the Opel -- a carcass of twisted and blackened metal -- next to the burned wreckage of the truck.

At around the same time across town, patches of ice caused a 15-car pile up near the junction of Olimpiisky Prospekt and the Third Ring Road.

No one was seriously injured in the pile up, which an official from the Central Administrative District prefect's office said may have been caused by a cleaning agent used to wash the roads. "It became very cold overnight, and ice patches formed" at the site of the accident," the unidentified official told Interfax. One of the cars involved in the accident was a police car, Rossia television reported.

City traffic police spokesman Igor Koloskov declined to comment on the accidents.