MOSCOW — A Russian long-range bomber crash-landed in the Arctic Tuesday, leaving three of its crew of four dead, officials said.
The Defense Ministry said the Tu-22M3 bomber crashed Tuesday while landing in a blizzard in the Murmansk region north of the Arctic Circle. It said the plane hit the runway and broke up on impact.
Two crewmembers were killed upon impact, according to the ministry. Two others were hospitalized, but one of them later died at a hospital, according to local medical officials.
The bomber wasn't carrying weapons, according to the ministry's statement that was carried by Russian news agencies.
Military investigators have started the crash probe, and the Tupolev company that manufactured the bomber said its experts will join the investigation.
Aviation expert Vadim Lukashevich believes the crash was likely caused by a vertical wind gust that suddenly hit the plane before touchdown, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.
The Tu-22M3 is a twin-engine supersonic heavy bomber built in the 1980s. Significant numbers have remained in service with the Russian air force, which has used the aircraft during its campaign in Syria.
The accident comes just days after two Russian Su-34 fighter bombers collided in mid-air during a training event over the Strait of Tartary.