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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 August 2006, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Mourning for Ukraine crash dead
Orthodox priests hold a service at the crash site in eastern Ukraine
A service for the victims was held at the site of the crash
Ukraine has been holding a national day of mourning for 170 people killed there in a Russian plane crash on Tuesday.

The plane was flying from the Russian Black Sea resort of Anapa to St Petersburg when it crashed near Donetsk, killing all on board.

Most of the passengers were thought to be Russians, including 45 children.

Officials say bad weather or a possible fire may have caused the crash. Investigators have now recovered the flight data and voice recorders.

Officials working at the scene of the crash in eastern Ukraine have also recovered the bodies or parts of bodies of all 170 victims, Russian news agencies report.

In St Petersburg, grieving relatives gathered at the city airport, which was the plane's final destination.

Some 50 relatives were travelling to the crash site on Wednesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country would declare Thursday a day of mourning for the victims.

Dutch passengers

The crew of the Pulkovo Airlines flight FV 612 sent a distress signal at 1537 Moscow time (1137 GMT), and the plane - a Tupolev-154 - disappeared from radar screens two minutes later, Russian officials said.


It crashed into a field about 45km (30 miles) north of Donetsk.

The plane was carrying 160 passengers, 45 of them children under 12, and 10 crew, Pulkovo Airlines said.

Officials said that the passenger list showed that two Germans, a Dutch national, one French citizen and a Finn were on board.

The fuselage of the plane was entirely destroyed and a thick pall of white smoke hung in the air, an AFP journalist reported from the scene shortly after the crash.

"It was floating, it circled around, then it went down," an unidentified women told Russian television.. Immediately there was an explosion... and smoke started rising".

'Severe weather'

There have been conflicting reports of the cause of the crash.

Ukraine's emergencies ministry said the crew had decided to make an emergency landing after a fire broke out.

Relatives of passengers on the flight support each other at a Saint Petersburg airport
Relatives in St Petersburg are preparing to fly to Ukraine

But Russian officials told the Itar-Tass news agency that the plane had encountered severe weather conditions before it came down.

They say it is likely that it was hit by lightning.

Russia says terrorism has been ruled out as a possible cause.

St Petersburg-based Pulkovo Airlines is one of Russia's larger carriers.

The crash is the third serious air disaster in the region this year.

In July, at least 124 people died when a Russian Airbus A-310 skidded off a runway and burst into flames in Irkutsk in Siberia.

Mobile phone footage of the crash

In pictures: Ukraine mourns
23 Aug 06 |  In Pictures
In pictures: Ukraine plane crash
22 Aug 06 |  In Pictures
Air disasters timeline
09 Jul 06 |  Europe

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