Officials Expect No Survivors Among 170 Onboard
ANN REALTIME UPDATE
08.22.06 1720 EDT: Officials in the Ukraine have released more
details about Tuesday's crash of a Russian Tu-154M airliner bound
for St. Petersburg.
The Ukraininan Emergency Situations Ministry confirmed to CNN
there were 170 people onboard the Pulkovo Airlines jet, including
39 children. At least 30 bodies have been pulled from the
wreckage... and officials expect no survivors will be found.
The Ministry added the plane's pilot reported a fire onboard and
heavy turbulence just before the aircraft went down -- but those
weren't the first signs of trouble for the airliner. The crew had
attempted an emergency landing 10 minutes earlier, but aborted the
attempt after the plane's landing gear would not extend.
Russia's troubled airline industry suffered another blow Tuesday
afternoon, with the loss of a Pulkovo Airlines Tupelov Tu-154M
approximately 28 miles north of the Ukrainian state of
Donetsk. All 160 passengers and 11 crew members onboard are feared
Officials with the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry told
CNN the plane's crew attempted an emergency landing about 20
minutes after takeoff from the Black Sea resort town of Anapa, but
the landing gear hadn't worked. Witnesses say the plane was on fire
as it came in on its belly.
Officials report heavy storms in the vicinity at the time of the
accident -- which they believe played a role in the crash.
"Unfortunately, we believe that no one managed to survive,"
Ministry spokeswoman Irina Andriyanova said. "The plane most likely
was hit by lightning. After it fell, it broke apart and burst into
The airliner was bound for St. Petersburg, and went down just
past 3:30 pm Moscow time. It was operating as Flight 161.
The Tu-154 is the most widely-used Russian airliner, carrying
nearly half of all air passengers in that country. The type entered
service in 1968, with approximately 1,000 produced. Officials say
the airliner involved in Tuesday's crash was manufactured in
Designed as a Russian counterpart to the Boeing 727, the
tri-engined Tu-154 has been involved in at least 30 accidents to
date -- a figure not helped by mounting safety problems and poor
maintenance oversight since the fall of the Soviet Union in