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Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 03:15 GMT 04:15 UK
Large jets collide over Germany
Konstanz debris
The debris was scattered across the countryside
Two large jet aircraft have crashed over southern Germany, reportedly killing 71 people on board and scattering burning debris over tens of kilometres.

The Tupolev 154 airliner hit a Boeing 757 cargo plane belonging to freight company DHL at an altitude of about 12,000 metres (36,000 feet), said a police spokesman .


The sky became bright all of a sudden. - it looked as if the sky was on fire

Klaus Barinka
Eyewitness

Police have so far found 11 bodies on the ground, but there is little hope that anyone could have survived.

There is as yet no indication of why the crash happened, but rescue workers have recovered a black box flight recorder from one of the planes.

Earlier reports had said there were 93 people on board the Russian plane.

Stopover

The crash happened over the town of Ueberlingen at 2343 (2143GMT) on Monday, with the debris of the Tupolev scattered across woods and farmland, and the Boeing crashing into Lake Konstanz.

German firefighters at scene
Rescue workers have already found bodies
The Tupolev has been identified as belonging to Bashkirian Airlines, a Russian regional air company.

It was reportedly carrying 57 passengers and 12 crew.

According to the Russian Emergencies Ministry, flight BTS2937 was en route from Moscow's Domodedovo airport to Barcelona.

It had reportedly made a stopover in Munich shortly before the crash.

The airline has eight Tu-154s in its fleet.

The DHL cargo plane was en route from Bahrain to Brussels, and had also made a stopover, at Bergamo in northern Italy. It had only the two pilots on board.

There are reports that the pilot of the Boeing tried to avoid the impact at the last moment and failed.

Mid-air collisions between large planes are extremely rare, because most planes carry avoidance equipment that sounds an alarm or automatically changes course, if another plane is too close.

Air traffic control error will be investigated as a possible cause of the crash.

German air traffic control said that the planes had been in Swiss airspace and were the responsibility of air controllers there.

The Swiss authorities have not commented so far.

'Enormous flash'

Pieces of the planes have been found scattered for kilometres around the crash site.

A school, a farm and other buildings are also reported to be on fire.

Eyewitnesses reports having seen fire light up the sky.

"The sky became bright all of a sudden. It looked as if the sky was on fire," said Klaus Barinka, 42, a ferry boat captain working at Lake Konstanz.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jane Warr reports
"Rescue workers have been sifting through the wreckage"
Head of corporate affairs at DHL, Axel Gietz
"Our condolences go out to everybody affected by this terrible tragedy"
Radio Journalist Stefan Shoyrer
"Three fireballs came down"
Eyewitness Alfred Knoedler
"The wheels of the aircraft crashed into the garden"
See also:

26 May 02 | In Depth
05 Oct 01 | Europe
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