Moscow: Forty four people were killed and eight survived with serious injuries when a Russian passenger plane crashed onto a motorway before landing, leaving bodies strewn over the road, officials said on Tuesday.

The RussAir Tu-134 tried to land just before midnight local time on Monday on a motorway two km from Petrozavodsk airport in the Karelia region of northern Russia.

But the plane, which was carrying out a flight from Moscow's Domodedovo airport, crashed and caught fire before it approached the airport.

"On July 20, a Tu-134 plane sustained a hard landing. Contact was lost with the pilot at 11.40 pm. The survivors have been sent to Petrozavodsk hospital," the local branch of the emergencies ministry said in a statement on its website.

The spokesman of The Russian investigative committee Vladimir Markin told news agencies that a criminal probe was being opened into neglect of air transport rules.

"According to the latest information, 52 people were on board the plane. Forty four were killed and eight were injured," an emergencies ministry official told a news agency.

The emergencies ministry in Moscow published a list of the passengers on the flight while the local branch of the ministry in Karelia gave a list of the eight people who had survived.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, a news channel quoted aviation sources as saying that bad weather in the area at the time could have been a factor. Human error was also not ruled out.

(Agencies)