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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Now, Russian Planes Start Dropping out of the Sky

The New York Times reports more proof of how wonderful things are in Putin's Neo-Soviet Union:

MOSCOW, July 10 — Three Russian passenger airplanes were forced to make emergency landings after suffering mishaps or malfunctions today, one day after a Russian passenger jet crashed on landing at an airport in Siberia and burst into flames.

No one died in any of the incidents today, although three people were injured and taken to a hospital when their plane, a Tu-134 carrying the chief of staff of the Russian navy among others, overran a runway at a naval base in the Crimea region of Ukraine and caught fire.

One of the two engines on the Soviet-era plane malfunctioned at takeoff, according to Captain Igor Dygalo, a navy spokesman. The cause was not clear; one theory was that a foreign object, perhaps a bird, was sucked into the engine.

An Airbus A-310 operated by a Russian airline, S7, made an emergency landing at another airfield in Ukraine after experience engine trouble. And a Tu-154 operated by Urals Airlines on a flight from the Russian Far East to Yekaterinburg landed in Irkutsk after one of its engines broke down.

The incidents underscored the lingering dangers of air travel in Russia, where the safety records of passenger air carriers, while generally better than in the late 1990’s, are still far behind their Western counterparts.

Elements of the emergency landings also carried eerie echoes of the crash in Irkutsk on Sunday of another A-310 operated by S7, in which 124 people died and 4 others were missing, their remains presumably unrecognizable in the charred hulk of the plane.

That crash is under investigation, and there was no immediate insight into why the plane, carrying more than 200 people in all, went out of control and veered off the runway.

Dozens of people from that crash remain hospitalized. Russian officials said today that several of the most gravely injured were being flown to Moscow to be treated for severe burns.

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