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Feb 13, 2013

Plane carrying fans crashes in Ukraine

A passenger plane carrying fans headed for Shakhtar's Champions League match skidded past the landing strip and overturned in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on Wednesday, killing four people, injuring two and leaving the fate of two others unknown, officials said.

The small, Soviet-designed AN-24 plane was carrying 45 people from the Black Sea port of Odessa, according to emergency officials. It was not immediately clear what caused the crash-landing, Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Inna Sedova told The Associated Press. The plane was operated by the small Southern Airlines company, which mostly runs domestic flights out of Odessa.

Sedova said that four people have been confirmed dead, two were injured and the fate of two others remains unknown.

Donetsk Governor Andrei Shishatsky said that rescuers had located one of the missing people in the wreckage of the plane but were still unsure whether the person was alive, the Interfax news agency reported. Interfax also quotes surviving passenger Dmitry Verbitsky as saying that the plane had caught fire during the crash-landing, but it was quickly put out.

Shishatsky spokeswoman Rimma Fil told the AP that most of the passengers were likely heading for the Wednesday night Champions League last-16 match between Ukraine's Shakhtar and Borussia Dortmund. The match opened with a minute of silence in memory of the dead.

In recent years, former Soviet republics have had some of the world's worst air traffic safety records. Experts blame that record on the age of the aircraft, weak government controls, poor pilot training and a cost-cutting mentality.

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