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Russian heavy bomber crash-lands in Arctic, killing 3

In this May 5, 2016 file photo, a Russian Tu-22 bomber flies over Moscow's Kremlin during a general rehearsal for a Victory Day military parade that will take place at Moscow's Red Square on May 9 to celebrate 71 years since victory in World War II. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

MOSCOW (AP) -- 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 that 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.

The ministry said two crewmembers were killed while two others were hospitalized. 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 believed that 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.

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