Polish president, 96 others killed in Russia plane crash

10:39, April 11, 2010      

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Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk (L) lay flowers at the site of a Polish government Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft crash near Smolensk airport April 10, 2010. Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria, its central bank head and the country's military chief, were among 97 people killed when their plane crashed in thick fog on its approach to a Russian airport on Saturday. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

Polish President Lech Kaczynski and some of Poland's key civilian and military leaders died Saturday when their chartered plane crashed, killing 97, as it came in for a landing in western Russia.

The 26-year-old Tupolev Tu-154 was enroute from Warsaw to Smolensk, Russia, when it went down in thick fog with the president, his wife, the army chief of staff, Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer and the central bank governor aboard, said Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Piotr Pszkowski.

Initial reports put the number of people on board the plane at 132, but Russia's Emergency Ministry later corrected the total to 96, then 97 in its latest announcement.

The victims included a delegation of 88 Poles headed to Russia to attend events marking the 70th anniversary of the massacre in Katyn forest of thousands of Polish officers by Soviet secret police.

The body of President Kaczynski may have been found in the wreckage of the plane, a highly-placed police source told RIA Novosti.

Speaking from the scene, the source said however that additional tests, including DNA, would be needed to identify many of the bodies.

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