Russian plane crashes, 88 dead

A plane travelling from Moscow carrying 88 people has crashed in central Russia, killing all passengers and crew on board, Aeroflot officials say.

A passenger jet crashed early Sunday as it was preparing to land in central Russia, killing all 88 people aboard, officials said.

The Boeing 737-500, operated by a division of Aeroflot, had been travelling from Moscow to the Ural Mountains city of Perm when it went down near residential buildings, Russian news agencies reported.

Among those killed on Flight 821 were citizens from the United States, France, Turkey, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and Latvia, an Aeroflot spokesperson said.

The company said the plane was flying at 3,600 feet when it lost contact with ground dispatchers and crashed, around 3:15 a.m. local time.

Russian news agencies said the wreckage ended up just a few hundred metres from a residential area on the outskirts of Perm, but there was no damage to homes or deaths on the ground.

A section of rail track was destroyed in the crash, officials said

The most likely cause of the crash was technical failure, Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the federal prosecutors' investigative committee, said in televised comments.

Pavel Shevchenko, a 36-year-old Perm resident who lives about 400 metres from the site of the crash, said he was awoken by an explosion and ran outside.

He said a neighbour who witnessed the crash told him the plane hit the ground sharply, at a 30- or 40-degree angle.

With files from the Associated Press