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Russian airliner explodes and crashes into Black Sea Copyright APonline

MOSCOW (October 4, 2001 8:27 a.m. EDT) - A Russian airliner flying from Tel Aviv to Siberia exploded in flight Thursday and crashed into the Black Sea off the coast of Russia with at least 77 people on board, Russian officials said.

Deputy Transport Minister Karl Ruppel told The Associated Press that a crew of an Armenian airliner in the area informed Russian air traffic controllers in Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia they saw an explosion aboard a plane flying nearby. Ruppel could not immediately say what the cause of the explosion was.

Ivan Teterian, chief of the local Ministry of Emergency Situations branch in southern Russia, said "we cannot exclude a terrorist attack." Speaking live on Russia's NTV television, he added that only a further investigation would determine the cause.

The plane, a Tupolev 154, went down 114 miles off the Russian coastal city of Adler, located on the Georgian border, said Vasily Yurchuk, a spokesman for the Ministry of Emergency Situations.

The plane was on its way from Tel Aviv to the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, Yurchuk said. It belonged to Sibir Airlines, which is based in Novosibirsk.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said there were at least 66 passengers and 11 crew members aboard.

The plane had made a stopover in Burgas in Bulgaria, where it apparently took on more passengers, Vladimir Kofman, an official with the Interstate Aviation Committee, which is in charge of investigating crashes in the former Soviet republics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was immediately informed of the crash, presidential press spokesman said, according to the Interfax news agency.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 04, 2001


Short version --

Ukrainian Missile Shot Down Russian Plane

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------- Thursday, October 4 11:25 PM SGT

KIEV, Oct 4 (AFP) - An Ukrainian army missile accidentally shot down a Russian airliner that crashed into the Black Sea Thursday, Ukrainian navy official Igor Larichev told AFP.

All 76 people on board, mnostly Israeli citizens, were feared dead after the TU-154 Sibir Airlines jet travelling from Tel Aviv crashed into the sea 190 kilometres (115 miles) south of the Russian city of Sochi, the Russian emergencies ministry said. Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier said he suspected a terrorist attack following reports of a midair explosion.

-- Jackson Brown (, October 04, 2001.

Ukraine Denies Downing Russian Plane

The Associated Press

Thursday, Oct. 4, 2001; 12:23 p.m. EDT

KIEV, Ukraine

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry denied Thursday any of its forces fired a rocket which could have hit the Russian aircraft that exploded and crashed into the Black Sea.

A senior U.S. military official in Washington said the plane may have been downed by a surface-to-air missile fired during a military exercise in Ukraine. Russian officials were investigating the possibility of a terrorist attack.

All the rockets used in the training exercise have "self-destruction mechanisms in case they deviated from their course," said Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk, according to a statement released by ministry spokesman Kostyantyn Khivrenko.

The Tu-154 aircraft was en route from Tel Aviv, Israel, to the Siberian city of Novosibirsk. It was carrying 76 people, according to Sibir Airlines, from which it was chartered.

Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

-- PHO (, October 04, 2001.

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