MOSCOW -- A Russian passenger plane veered off the runway on landing early today, hit a concrete barrier, and burst into flames, a government spokeswoman said. About 150 people were reported killed in the crash in the Siberian city of Irkutsk.
The Sibir Airbus A-310 was carrying 200 people -- a crew of eight and 192 passengers -- on a flight from Moscow to Irkutsk, said Irina Andrianova of the Emergency Situations Ministry. Many were children headed to nearby Lake Baikal on vacation, the Russian news agency ITAR-Tass said.
Andrianova said 43 people were taken to a hospital and another 10 escaped without serious injury. Most of the other passengers were feared dead, she said.
ITAR-Tass and the Russian news agency Interfax reported that around 150 people had died, quoting a preliminary toll from the regional prosecutor's office and transport ministry.
The plane was landing around 7:50 a.m. local time when it veered off the runway, the emergency situations spokeswoman said.
``It was traveling at a terrific speed," Andrianova said.
After striking a barrier, the plane was engulfed in flames. She said it took five emergency services more than two hours to put out the fire.
There was no information yet about the cause of the crash.
Sibir is Russia's second-largest airline, carved out of the Siberian wing of the Soviet monopoly carrier Aeroflot.
Cash-strapped and saddled with aging aircraft, regional airlines whittled out of Aeroflot were notorious for their disregard for safety. But in recent years crashes from equipment failure or pilot error have declined sharply.
In 2004 a Sibir Tu-154 was one of two planes lost in near-simultaneous crashes blamed on terrorist bombs.