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Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
German town in shock at crash
Tupolev wreckage in a field
Firefighters used foam on the burning wreckage

Anton Rauch's fields are now scattered with wreckage from two planes.

He told me he was in bed when all of a sudden there was an ear-deafening sound. He thought it was the world coming to an end, or an earthquake.

Anton jumped out of bed and as he looked out of the window, he saw a fireball coming towards him which he described as "absolutely terrifying".

Crash site
The wreckage hitting an urban area would have been disastrous
What he saw was the fatal collision of a transport plane with a passenger liner, which resulted in the deaths of 71 people, many of them Russian children.

There are large amounts of smouldering debris and ashen wreckage. You can see the tails of both aircraft, one of which stills smoulders.

Firemen are working amongst the wreckage. The remaining parts of an aircraft undercarriage are visible, littering fields just one kilometre from the town of Ueberlingen, on the shore of Lake Konstanz near the German-Swiss border.

Of course if the crash had been in built-up areas nearer the town, many more people would have died.

As it was, the planes came down on a hillside outside the urban centre.

One resident of Ueberlingen told me that if the planes had hit the urban area, half the population would have been wiped out.

Black boxes

There is a great deal of shock in the air now. People cannot really comprehend what has happened.

At bedtime last night everything was normal. Not long after, they woke up to this terrible tragedy.

The key to what happened will of course be recovering the black boxes for a recording of everything which went on in the cockpits, and the mechanical actions of the planes during those critical moments. That will be crucial in working out what happened and why.

And naturally, the families of the dead will be visiting here as well.


Key stories:

At the scene:

Background:

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26 May 02 | In Depth
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