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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

5 Killed After Russian Jet Lands on Helicopter Pad

A Russian airliner mistakenly landed on a helicopter pad, killing five people, after the pilot lost his bearings in a blizzard, officials said Sunday.

The Yak-40 touched down 600 meters short of the main runway in the oil town of Khanty-Mansiisk, 1,900 kilometers east of Moscow, late Saturday. Itar-Tass said the small three-engined jet clipped two helicopters and then smashed straight into a third before bursting into flames.

"There was a violent snowstorm at the time and the pilot mixed up the helicopter pad and the runway, which were both illuminated in a similar way," a spokeswoman for the local administration said by telephone.

She denied a report that the death toll had risen to seven and said four people were still in hospital.

The plane, which belonged to the local airline Tyumen-Aviatrans, had up to 30 passengers and four crew on board. It had taken off from Tyumen, 480 kilometers to the south.

Investigators flew to Khanty-Mansiisk from Moscow to carry out a probe into the crash, Interfax said.

It was the first plane crash for some time in Russia, where air safety levels slumped after the state airline Aeroflot was broken up into hundreds of smaller carriers in 1992.

The last major accident to be reported was in April, when an Ilyushin Il-76 transport plane with 14 people aboard crashed in the remote far eastern Kamchatka peninsula.

Last year 245 people were killed in 18 air crashes in the Commonwealth of Independent States compared to 327 victims in 20 disasters in 1994. Most of the accidents were blamed on overloaded planes, pilot errors and fuel shortages.

In August all 141 people on board a Vnukovo Airlines Tupolev Tu-154 were killed when it crashed into mountains in the Norwegian archipelago of Spitsbergen.