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Icing, pilot error cited as Russia crash kills 31

A Russian airplane crash that killed 31 people Monday was likely caused by a combination of fuselage icing and pilot error, local media reported Tuesday.

The 28-year-old pilot of a Utair airline ATR-72 decided against ordering having the aircraft treated with de-icing fluids prior to a Monday flight, despite near-freezing temperatures, said Vladimir Polyakov, airport chief of the west Siberian city of Tyumen, according to a Kommersant newspaper report.

The 20-year-old plane crashed soon after takeoff and broke into three parts before catching on fire.

Twelve people survived the crash, and were in critical or serious condition, the Interfax news agency reported.

Oleg Smirnov, a Transport Ministry official, told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper that icing could easily have caused the crash.

An international commission investigating the crash site said the aircraft reached an altitude of 600 feet before turning partly on its side and striking the ground.

The plane's engines continued to function until the moment of the crash, and no indication of intoxication was found in the pilots' remains, according to officials from Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations.