02/04/2012 05:09 BST | Updated 02/04/2012 05:15 BST

Russian Plane Crash In Siberia Kills 31 (PICTURES)

A Russian plane has crashed in Siberia, killing at least 31 people, local officials have said.

The UTair operated aircraft crashed shortly after take off in Tyumen, east of Moscow, on a flight heading to the oil-rich region of Surgut in north east Siberia. The aeroplane burst into flames and broke into three pieces after ploughing into a snowy field, reports Russian news site RT.

UTair said that the crash occurred when the plane tried to make an emergency landing. There are now 200 rescue workers and 43 rescue vehicles at the site of the crash. Russia's deputy transport minister has been flown to the scene.

Initial reports have suggested that the disaster was down to "technical difficulties and pilot error."

There were 43 people on board the French-Italian made ATR-72 turboprop when it crashed into the snowy field. The survivors have been airlifted to hospital by helicopter, with five reported to be in a critical condition.

The crew, which consisted of two pilots and two flight attendants, were all killed in the crash, Russian news agency Itar Tass reported.

Last year at least 15 planes crashed in Russia. The entire ice hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl was killed in a crash in September, in a collision that claimed a total of 44 lives.

In June, 47 people were killed in a flight from Moscow that crashed in the Karelia region. Human error was believed to be one of the reasons for the crash.

The plane crash in Siberia is the first aviation disaster to occur since Vladmir Putin was elected as president in March. The transport ministry has already said that an investigation is to be launched into the crash.

After last year's air disasters, Putin's predecessor Dmitry Medvedev ordered all of Russia's older Soviet-era aeroplanes to be removed from operation.