97 killed in Polish president's plane crash

14:03, April 11, 2010      

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Ninety-seven people died Saturday in the crash of a chartered plane carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski to Smolensk, Russian officials said.

Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, who was at the site of the tragedy, said 97 bodies would be placed in coffins and taken to Moscow's Domodedovo airport.

"The bodies of those who died will be delivered to Moscow for identification," he said

It was earlier reported that 96 people, including 88 belonging to the Polish delegation to the Katyan ceremony and 8 crew members, were killed in the crash.

Both "black boxes have been found and examination on them have begun," Shoigu added.

The Russian Prosecutor General's investigations committee has opened an investigation into the crash.

"The investigation is looking into various theories...including unfavorable weather, human error, and technical malfunctions," the committee said in a statement.

First Deputy Chief of the Air Force Main Staff, Lieutenant-General Alexander Alyoshin said the Tu-154 crew ignored the Smolensk air traffic controller's instructions several times.

"At a distance of 1.5 kilometres, the air traffic controlling group found out that the crew had increased the sinking speed and began descending below the glide path. The chief air traffic controller ordered the crew to proceed to level flying, but when the crew ignored the order, he commanded the plane several times to head to the reserve aerodrome. Nevertheless, the crew continued the descent," Alyoshin told the Itar-tass news agency.

"Unfortunately, it ended in a tragedy," he added.

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.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu to the crash site and ordered the establishment of an investigation committee headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Source:Xinhua

(Editor:梁军)

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