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Page last updated at 04:54 GMT, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 05:54 UK

Poland to review travel rules after deadly air crash

People wait in line to sign books of condolence next to a sea of candles left by mourners outside Warsaw's presidential palace, Poland, 12 April 2010
People wait in line to sign a condolence book next to a sea of candles left by mourners outside Warsaw's presidential palace

Poland's acting president is to review travel rules for military officials after the president and other top officials were killed in a plane crash.

Bronislaw Komorowski announced the move as mourning continued for the 96 people killed when the jet crashed in fog while trying to land in western Russia.

President Lech Kaczynski's body is to lie in state in a closed coffin.

Questions are being asked about why the jet's pilots ignored advice to divert to another airport because of the fog.

The Russian side is behaving with extraordinary openness and, even more, with a Slavic openness and kindness
Radoslaw Sikorski
Polish foreign minister

Russia flew the bodies of victims, many of them believed to be disfigured beyond recognition, to morgues in Moscow. As of Tuesday morning, 45 had been identified, Russian Health Minister Tatyana Golikova said.

The body of the president's wife, Maria Kaczynska, has been identified and is to due to be returned to Poland.

There is no precedent for a dual funeral involving a head of state and his first lady, but a spokesman for the president's office said a joint funeral would be held once the bodies of all those killed had been repatriated.

Those killed had been due to attend a memorial for the Polish victims of the World War II massacre by Soviet secret police at Katyn in the Smolensk region.

Commentators in Poland have stressed the irony that so many senior figures were killed making a visit to commemorate victims of a massacre which targeted the elite of Poland's officer corps.

'Advised against landing'

The Soviet-built Tu-154 airliner clipped tree-tops as it tried to land at a former air base north of the city of Smolensk on Saturday morning.

SENIOR FIGURES KILLED
National leaders:
President Lech Kaczynski and wife Maria
Former President-in-exile Ryszard Kaczorowski
Top civil servant:
Slawomir Skrzypek National Bank of Poland chairman
Other politicians:
Wladyslaw Stasiak chief of the president's chancellery Aleksander Szczyglo chief of the National Security Office
Jerzy Szmajdzinski deputy speaker of the lower house Andrzej Kremer Foreign Ministry's undersecretary of state Stanislaw Komorowski deputy minister of national defence Przemyslaw Gosiewski Law and Justice party deputy chair
Military figures:
Franciszek Gagor chief of the general staff
Andrzej Blasik head of the air force
Andrzej Karweta head of the navy
Tadeusz Buk land forces commander
Aleksander Szczyglo head of the National Security Office
Cultural figures:
Andrzej Przewoznik head of Poland's Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom Sites
Tomasz Merta chief historical conservator

Polish Prosecutor General Andrzej Seremet said that Polish investigators had talked to the flight controller and flight supervisor and concluded that there had been "no conditions for landing".

"The tower was advising against the landing," he said.

Polish investigators, he said, had not yet listened to the cockpit conversations recorded on the plane's recovered black boxes but would do so to see if there had been "any suggestions made to the pilots" from other people aboard the plane.

There has been speculation the pilot and co-pilot, who were both aged 36, were under pressure not to delay the landing.

Sergei Ivanov, Russia's first deputy prime minister, said the black boxes were "absolutely functional and recorded absolutely all the information, sound as well as parametric [information], till the moment of crash".

"It is reliably confirmed that warning of the unfavourable weather conditions at the North airport and recommendations to go to a reserve airport were not only transmitted but received by the crew of the plane," he added.

Mr Seremet said the remains of 87 people had been found so far and he hoped the rest would be retrieved when the crash debris was lifted with heavy machinery.

Special session

A special joint session of the Polish parliament has been called for Tuesday to debate the disaster whose victims included MPs.

Thousands of students filed slowly through Warsaw

It is believed the funerals could be held this weekend.

The crash shocked many Russians as well, the BBC's Duncan Kennedy reports from Warsaw.

President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have devoted much time and effort to dealing with the aftermath of the crash, he adds, and Monday was a day of mourning in Russia.

The country was "suffering and grieving together with the Poles", Mr Putin told a cabinet meeting.

Russia's handling of the tragedy has been widely appreciated by many in Poland, though others suggest the thaw in relations may not last, our correspondent says.

"I don't know whether there will be a political breakthrough, because we have many opposing interests with Russia," Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on a Polish radio station.

"But we already have an emotional breakthrough and that is already a great deal."

"I must emphasise that the Russian side is behaving with extraordinary openness and, even more, with a Slavic openness and kindness," he added.

At least 130 relatives have been flown to the Russian capital in the hope of helping forensic scientists to identify their loved ones' remains. They are being aided by Polish and Russian psychologists.

"We all had to fulfil this difficult duty," said Rafal Dobrzeniecki, whose fiancee's father died in the crash. "I never had the chance to call him my dear father-in-law, he will always stay in my memory."

Map of crashed flight



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