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Plane with 309 passengers including ‘men dodging Putin’s draft’ erupts on fire

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Disaster hit a Russian tourist plane when an engine erupted into flames and tyres exploded during take-off, forcing the pilot to abruptly abort the scheduled departure.

Dramatic footage showed the tyres of the Boeing 767 exploding and its engine lighting on fire while on the runway in Phuket, Thailand, today (February 5), forcing 309 passengers and 12 crew members to evacuate.

One report said the plane had been close to taking off at 120mph when the pilot aborted the departure following the outbreak of fires.

READ MORE: Horrific moment aircraft 'cut taxi in two' as it crashed after pilot turned engine off

The 26-year-old plane, operated by charter company Azur Air, was en route to Moscow when it began to fail.

A spokesperson for Azur Air said that all passengers were given rooms and food while they waited for their replacement flight.

They added that passengers will be flying out to Moscow on a replacement flight on the same day as the incident.

Some of the passengers on board included families of men hiding from Putin's conscription drive.

Some had left their men in Thailand, which is seen as a “friendly” country by Russia, amid suspicions of a new round of conscription.

Other men were returning to Russia after running out of money in Thailand, despite the fear they could be mobilised in a potential new conscription drive and sent to Ukraine.

One suspected reason for the flight’s failure is that Russian airlines are cutting corners in terms of safety and using planes without properly maintaining them in order to stay in business after sanctions placed on the country following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has left the airline industry in a bind.

A top Russian airspace official wanted to reassure fliers that despite the sanctions placed on the country’s air industry, airlines were still as safe as before.

"I am confident that it has not become more dangerous to fly – and it has nothing to do with the presence or absence of original spare parts,” said head of the Russian Federal Agency for Air Transport, Alexander Neradko.

He also demanded that people stop describing the way planes are repaired in Russia by using spare parts from other aircraft as “cannibalisation”.

"The practice of interchanging serviceable spare parts from jet to jet has always been widespread,” he said.

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