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Mon, Jul 10, 2006

Investigators Look At Brakes In Russian Airliner Accident

At Least 124 People Lost In Runway Overrun

The grim search for bodies continues in the Siberian city of Irkutsk, where an S7 Airlines Airbus A310 went down on Sunday.

The number of Authorities tell local media that 124 bodies have been recovered so far, with six persons still unaccounted for. A spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry, Viktor Beltsov, told CBS news that 75 of the 203 people onboard the plane survived -- revising earlier estimates of as many as 150 fatalities.

Meanwhile, investigators are looking closely at the possibility the airliner's brakes may have malfunctioned as the plane attempted to land on the rain-slicked runway at Irkutsk. The runway also slopes down a hill.

The plane's flight data recorders were recovered from the scene immediately, said Transport Minister Igor Levitin, and are now being analyzed.

As Aero-News reported, Sunday's accident was the second major commercial airliner accident in as many months in Russia... and CBS reports it was followed Monday by three other incidents involving Russian planes... one of which was at the same airport. A Urals Airlines Tupelov Tu-154 made a safe emergency landing at Irkutsk, Beltsov said.

Another S7 aircraft, also an A310, made a successful emergency landing at the airport in Simferopol Monday morning after what officials called a "technical malfunction." That wasn't the only incident of the day in the Ukranian airport, however; hours later, a Tu-134 carrying the Russian navy chief departed the runway, followed by a fire in one of the plane's two engines. There were no fatalities, but several officers onboard the plane were burned.

All of these incidents may point to disturbing safety issues in Russian commercial aviation... for now, however, the focus in Russia is on Sunday's accident. Russian president Vladimir Putin designated Monday as a national day of mourning -- and has also called for an investigation into the accident.



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