The jet, operated by Tartarstan Airlines, was attempting to land in windy conditions and had reportedly attempted to abort the landing. The plane was carrying a crew of six along with 44 passengers on a flight from Moscow to Kazan. Officials say that witnesses describe the Boeing 737 as falling vertically from the sky. The fuel tank exploded when the jet hit the ground, scattering wreckage over a wide area, Reuters notes.
Russian officials are investigating the crash. Pilot error and equipment failure are said to top the list of possible causes for the disaster. Boeing issued a statement indicating that it would assist in the investigation as needed.
The accident comes as Russia is gearing ip for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, which kick off in February. The country has a notoriously poor record when it comes to airline safety.
In July, a Boeing 777 operated by Asiana Airlines crashed on landing at San Francisco’s international airport, killing two. That crash is widely blamed on pilot error.