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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Yet Another Russian Plane Drops out of the Sky

The Associated Press reports that yet another Russian plane has dropped out of the sky with more than 100 passengers on board. The same model, TU-154, made an emergency landing in Irkutsk only weeks ago, and follows on the heels of the crash of an A-310 in Irkutsk days before that with 124 lives lost.

MOSCOW (AP) -- A Russian passenger jet with 171 people aboard crashed in Ukraine on Tuesday after sending a distress signal, emergency officials said.

The Pulkovo airlines Tupolev 154, en route from the Russian Black Sea resort of Anapa to St. Petersburg, disappeared from radar screens over Ukraine, Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Yulia Stadnikova said.

Minutes later, the ministry said wreckage from the plane was found on the ground.

Another ministry spokesman, Irina Andriyanova, said that 30 bodies had been found. She said there were 171 people aboard: 160 passengers, including six children, and 11 crew members.

The plane disappeared from radar screens two minutes after the crew sent an SOS signal, Stadnikova said.

RIA-Novosti news agency reported that the wreckage was found near the Ukrainian city of Donetsk and said rescuers were at the site.

Pulkovo airlines, among Russia's largest carriers, is based in St. Petersburg.

It was the third major plane crash in the region this year, and came less than two months after at least 124 people died when an Airbus A-310 of the Russian carrier S7 skidded off a runway and burst into flames on July 9 in the Siberian city of Irkutsk.

On May 3, an A-320 of the Armenian airline Armavia crashed into the Black Sea while trying to land in the Russian resort city of Sochi in rough weather, killing all 113 people aboard.

Russian-made Tu-154s are widely used by Russian airlines for many regional flights.

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