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The BBC's Steve Rozenberg in Moscow
"Wreckage from the aircraft has been located and is reported to be in flames"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 3 July, 2001, 21:00 GMT 22:00 UK
Siberia air crash kills 143
Russia map
All 143 people aboard a Russian passenger plane are reported dead after it crashed near the Siberian city of Irkutsk.


They all died

Edmund Musin
Regional Emergencies Ministry official
The Tupolev 154 plane, which belonged to the Vladivostok Avia airline, disappeared from radar screens at 2110 Moscow time (1710 GMT).

There were 133 passengers and 10 crew on board. Russia's emergency ministry said a rescue team had been sent to the site.

The plane had been en route from Yekaterinburg in the Ural mountains to Vladivostok, the major port on Russia's Pacific Coast.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Mr Putin has authorized the setting up of a commission to investigate the crash

News agencies report that the burning wreckage of the plane was discovered close to the village of Budyonnovka, about 34km (20 miles) from Irkutsk near the border with Mongolia.

It had been due to land in Irkutsk to refuel.

The BBC Rob Parsons in Moscow said: "The fear is that it went down in a built-up area."

He added: "The area is very popular with holiday makers. There are a lot of holiday homes around there and the fear is the plane went down in one such area."

No crash clues

So far there are no clues as to the cause of the crash.

No problems had been reported during take-off from Yekaterinburg.

President Vladimir Putin has authorized the setting up of a commission to investigate the crash, the presidential press secretary Alexei Gromov told Russia's Itar-Tass news agency.

Workhorse

Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov has been appointed as the commission chief, said the agency. He will go to the crash scene on Wednesday.

The Tu-154 is the workhorse of Russia's domestic airlines and widely used throughout the former Soviet Union.

It is one of the most widely-used Russian airliners, and is of a similar size to the Boeing 727.

Several have been involved in a number of deadly accidents in recent years.

Some aviation officials have contended that the aircraft is an unsafe plane.

Crash history

A Tu-154 crashed into a mountain on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in August 1996, killing 141 people.

In December 1995, all 97 aboard a Tu-154 died in a crash in Russia's Far East.

A January 1994 crash in Siberia killed all 125 aboard.

Six months later a Chinese-owned Tu-154 crashed in Xian, killing all 160 people aboard.

More than 1,000 Tu-154 have been built and most remain active.

Although used successfully by Aeroflot and many former Soviet bloc airlines, it cannot compete commercially with more modern Western equivalents.

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01 Nov 00 | World
Air disaster timeline
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