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Moscow air crash blamed on brake system

Investigators say a faulty braking system may have been the reason for the latest Russian aircrash. The country has one of the worst air-traffic safety records in the world.

Investigators have been examining the black box to try to determine the cause of the crash of the Tupolev-204 at Vnukovo airport.

The plane crashed on Saturday afternoon broke through a fence onto a highway, caught fire and split into three parts.

"After landing the pilot used all the available brake systems on the plane, but for some reason the machine did not stop," a member of the investigation team told the Interfax news Agency on Sunday.

"Most likely it was faulty reverse engines or brakes," he added.

If it is confirmed that defective brakes were the reason for the accident, this would match a warning issued by Russia's aviation authority. This stated that problems with the brakes of the Russian-built Tupolev aircraft may have caused a Tu-204 with 70 people onboard to go off a Siberian runway on December 21.

The plane that crashed on Saturday was operated by the charter airline Red Wings and was traveling from the Czech Republic without passengers, but with an experienced crew on board.

A fifth crew member died of her injuries in hospital on Sunday. Three more crew members are still in critical condition.

The Tu-204 is comparable in size to a Boeing 757 or Airbus A321. It was produced in the mid-1990s but is no longer being made.

Red Wings, whose fleet includes nine of the Tu-204 planes, said on Sunday those planes would continue running. It has offered the relatives of the victims 50,000 euros ($66,000) per person.

According to the International Air Transport Association, Russia and other former Soviet republics have some of the world's worst air-traffic safety records last year, with a total accident rate almost three times the world average.

rg/jm (Reuters, dpa)