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Russian Cargo Plane Down Near Turin; Two in Plane and Two on Ground Die

October 9, 1996

TURIN, Italy (AP) _ Eight people escaped unhurt from a fiery plane crash in northern Italy Tuesday, and 13 others were injured. The pilot and co-pilot were killed, as was an Italian couple when the plane slammed into their farmhouse.

The Russian cargo plane sheared off a rooftop and began to break apart before slamming into the farmhouse.

``It was awful. I was lucky to get out of plane as it was burning,″ a survivor, Vladimir Churikov, was quoted as saying.

The Antonov 124 with 23 people aboard went down in light rain in a town outside Turin’s Caselle airport as it tried to land. Those on the plane included crew members, cargo handlers and workers bound for the United Arab Emirates.

Police said the Russian pilot and co-pilot died. The two other victims, an Italian farmer and his wife, were killed when their house collapsed.

The plane was coming from Moscow to pick up a load of luxury cars in Turin and then travel to the United Arab Emirates and Brunei. Turin is the headquarters of Fiat, Italy’s top automaker.

The farmhouse was near the center of San Francesco a Campo, a town of 2,000 people 13 miles from the northern industrial city of Turin. An official at the local municipal office said the plane crashed after an apparent aborted landing attempt.

Before coming down about one mile from the runway, the plane demolished the roof and top of a house, losing a piece of its tail and its undercarriage.

A fire broke out and plumes of smoke rose from destroyed buildings and charred pieces of the plane.

``It was like a earthquake when it crashed,″ said Lorenzo Cariasco, a farmer. ``Soon after I saw flames as high as 50 meters (yards).″

``It was tipping, and hit some trees before crashing against the farmhouse,″ Luigino Ballesio, a witness, told the ANSA news agency. ``I saw six or seven people rush from the wreckage. One was bleeding heavily.″

Eugeny Gonssev, the Russian consul in Milan, quoted a Russian survivor as saying that the pilot shouted in Russian, ``Speed, speed,″ shortly before the plane went down.

The mayor of San Francesco a Campo, Adriano Coriasso, said he had often tried to move the flight path of big cargo planes away from the town.

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