2 Russian jets crash at same time
Two airliners that departed from Moscow,
disappeared from radar and crashed at about the same time
shortly after takeoff, raising fears of Chechen terrorism.
BY PETER BAKER AND SUSAN
MOSCOW -Two passenger jets that took off from a Moscow
airport crashed within minutes of each other in different parts of
southern Russia late Tuesday night with a total of about 90 people
on board, authorities said. No survivors were reported.
Both planes left Moscow's Domodedovo Airport at about 10:30
p.m. heading to separate southern cities and then disappeared from
radar almost simultaneously at about 11 p.m., authorities said.
Rescue squads reached the scene of one crash in the Tula region
about 100 miles south of Moscow early this morning and hours later
found a fire that may be from the wreckage of the second plane
north of Rostov.
Officials made no immediate statements about the possible
causes of the twin crashes, but the timing raised suspicions of a
terrorist attack. Witnesses in Tula said they saw an explosion on
one of the planes before it plunged from the sky, the Interfax
news agency reported, citing local authorities.
President Vladimir Putin, who is vacationing in the Black Sea
resort of Sochi, where the other plane was heading, was quickly
informed of the developments and ordered the Federal Security
Service -- the domestic successor to the KGB -- to investigate the
incident, the Kremlin said. Security was tightened at Russian
The crashes took place four days before an election in the
separatist region of Chechnya to choose a successor to Akhmad
Kadyrov, the Kremlin-allied provincial president who was
assassinated in May. The approaching vote has been marked by
renewed fighting in the Chechen capital of Grozny and elsewhere.
Terrorists have targeted Russia repeatedly in the last two
years, killing hundreds of civilians in Moscow and in the southern
part of the country. Chechen guerrillas have claimed
responsibility for many of the suicide bombings and other attacks.
''There's still a chance this is an appalling airplane
maintenance problem, but it seems more likely this is a terrorist
act, given the prevailing conditions in the region,'' said Fiona
Hill, a Russia scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
``The whole of the North Caucasus is in considerable disarray.''
Russian government officials have sought repeatedly in recent
years to link Chechen separatist guerrillas with international
terrorist groups such as al Qaeda. But Hill said the possible
airplane-based attack was not necessarily an indication of
But Putin's vacationing in Sochi, destination for one of the
crashed planes, would be ''very symbolic, obviously,'' she said.
Aslan Maskhadov, the Chechen separatist leader, said in June
that the Chechens planned an escalation in attacks against the
Maskhadov seemed to foreshadow the use of airplanes in an
e-mail sent to the Reuters news agency last month. ''If Chechens
possessed warplanes or rockets, then airstrikes on Russian cities
would also be legitimate,'' he said.
Terrorist attacks in the last year have focused on soft targets
such as the Moscow subway and a rock concert. Security for
domestic flights at Russian airports has often been criticized as
Flight 1303, a Tupolev Tu-134 operated by Volga-Avia-Express
airline, arrived at Moscow at 9:20 p.m. from the southern city of
Volgograd, known as Stalingrad during World War II, then loaded
new passengers and took off again at 10:32 p.m., according to
Russian news reports.
It disappeared at 10:56 p.m. with 34 passengers and eight crew
members aboard. Authorities found wreckage from the plane near
Flight 1047, a Tupolev Tu-154 operated by Sibir airline, left
Moscow at 10:35 p.m. heading for Sochi, then vanished from radar
at 10:59 p.m., according to news reports. Interfax said that 38
passengers and eight crew members were aboard, while the
RIA-Novosti news agency put the number of passengers at 44.
Four hours after the crash, rescue personnel were still
searching for the remains of the aircraft about 82 miles from
Rostov. At about 3 a.m. they found a fire they believed could
indicate the scene of the crash.
|2 Russian Passenger Planes Crash Within Minutes of
By C. J. Chivers
New York Times
Wednesday 25 August 2004
MOSCOW, Wednesday, Aug. 25 - Two Russian
passenger jets on domestic flights crashed nearly simultaneously after
departing from the same terminal in Moscow on Tuesday night, officials
said. At least 88 people were presumed dead.
While precise details surrounding the crashes
were unclear, the Russian news service Interfax, citing an anonymous
official source, reported that minutes after the first plane went down,
the second jet issued a distress signal indicating it had been hijacked.
Then it, too, disappeared from radar.
As airport security was tightened throughout
Russia, President Vladimir V. Putin, who has been vacationing and
working in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, ordered the F.S.B., one of the
successor agencies to the K.G.B., to begin immediate investigations into
the crashes, a spokesman for the president told the news service.
"Vladimir Putin is constantly receiving
reports from the directors of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the
F.S.B. and other power agencies of Russia," said the spokseman,
Wreckage of the first plane, Volga
AviaExpress Flight 1303, a Tupelov-134 en route to Volgograd, was found
in the Tula region, about 100 miles south of Moscow, after disappearing
from radar at about 10:56 p.m.
The plane was reported to have carried at
least 34 passengers and a crew of 8. Interfax reported that the plane
was flown by the airline's general director, whom the company described
as an experienced pilot. No survivors were found, according to initial
Witnesses near the town of Kimovsk, in the
Tula region, told authorities that the plane exploded before it fell
from the sky, according to Interfax, which also reported that a portion
of the aircraft's tail and fuselage had been discovered.
The second aircraft, Sibir Airlines Flight
1047, a Tupolev-154 bound for Sochi, disappeared from radar over the
Rostov-on-Don region, about 500 miles south of Moscow near Russia's
border with Ukraine, minutes after the first jet crashed. A ground fire
was reported in the region near the village of Zelenovka in the predawn
darkness on Wednesday.
The Sibir Airlines flight was initially
reported to have carried 38 passengers and 8 crew members, although a
later report said the plane may have carried 6 more passengers, for a
total of 52 people on board.
There was no further insight into the cause
of the crash. The airline said it knew only that the flight had suddenly
"Flight 1047 disappeared from the radar
of air traffic controllers at around 23:00," Yevgeny Selyanin, a
spokesman for the airline, said in a telephone interview.
Moscow has three commercial airports. Both
planes departed in clear weather from the same field, Domodedovo, which
has only one terminal for domestic flights - circumstances that
suggested the possibility of terrorism.
Russia has been engaged in a protracted war
with its breakaway republic of Chechnya, from where terrorists have
carried out several high-profile terrorist attacks in recent years.
Shamil Basayev, a prominent rebel commander who is considered a
terrorist by both Moscow and Washington, recently threatened more
A special election is scheduled for this
weekend to replace the former Chechen president, Akhmad Kadyrov, who was
assassinated in the spring. Chechen rebels, who nearly killed the
interim president a few weeks ago, have vowed to assassinate whoever
wins the election.
When Russia's ambassador to the United
Nations, Andrey Denisov, was told of the initial report of the crashes,
he said, "Now we have to see if there's terrorism," The
Associated Press reported.
In Washington, a senior State Department
official said the circumstances surrounding the crashes were being
closely watched. "We are obviously concerned by the news," the
official said. "We're following developments closely and trying to
determine the facts."
A spokesman for Domodedovo airport told
Interfax that a review of passenger lists from the two aircraft found no
foreign citizens on either plane. He did not provide further
Tupelovs are the backbone of the Russian
domestic passenger fleet, and have been in service for more than three
decades. The Tupelov-134, used on shorter routes, can carry more than 90
passengers, depending on its configuration; the Tupelov-154 is a
medium-range jet that can carry more than 160 passengers.
|Russia investigates possibility of terrorism in twin
plane crashes that left 89 dead |
By Mike Eckel
7:08 a.m. August 25, 2004
BUCHALKI, Russia – Russian emergency workers searched heaps of
twisted metal and tall grass Wednesday for clues to what caused two
airliners to plunge to Earth almost simultaneously, killing all 89
people aboard. Officials said one jet sent a hijack distress signal,
raising fears terrorists had struck.
Flight recorders from both planes were found and taken to Moscow for
investigation, ITAR-Tass reported, indicating the question of what
caused the twin disasters soon could be answered.
Russia's main intelligence agency, however, said it had found no
evidence of terrorism in initial investigations at the crash sites. The
Federal Security Service, or FSB, said it was investigating other
possibilities such as technical failures, the use of poor quality fuel,
breaches of fueling regulations and pilot error, its press service told
The Associated Press. Rain and thunder was reported in the regions where
both crashes occurred.
Estimated times of key
developments in the nearly simultaneous crashes of two
– Tu-154 jet, carrying 46 passengers, takes off
from Moscow's Domodedovo airport for the Black Sea
resort of Sochi.
– Tu-134 jet, carrying 43 passengers, takes off
from Moscow's Domodedovo airport for the southern
Russian city of Volgograd.
– Tu-154 jet activates a distress signal indicating
the plane might have been hijacked.
– Tu-134 jet disappears from radar screens and
– Tu-154 crashes in Rostov region.
– Rescuers find the wreckage of Tu-134 jet in the
Tula region, about 125 miles south of Moscow.
– Rescuers discover wreckage of Tu-154 jet in the
Rostov region some 600 miles south of Moscow.
– Emergency Situations Ministry declares no
– Authorities believe they have recovered bodies of
all 43 people aboard Tu-134. Recovery of bodies from
Tu-154 crash continues.
Rebels fighting a protracted war for independence for Chechnya, the
troubled southern Russian province, have been blamed for a series of
terror strikes that have claimed hundreds of lives in Russia in recent
years. But rebel representative Akhmed Zakayev told Russia's Ekho Moskvy
radio from London that Chechen forces and rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov
were not connected to the crashes.
Russian officials had expressed concern that separatists in the
war-ravaged republic might carry out attacks ahead of a regional
election Sunday to replace its pro-Moscow president who was killed in a
A Sibir airlines Tu-154 jet, carrying 46 people, took off from
Moscow's newly redeveloped Domodedovo airport at 9:35 p.m. Tuesday and
the other plane, a Tu-134 carrying 43 people, left 40 minutes later,
according to state-run Rossiya television. The Tu-134 was headed to the
southern city of Volgograd, while the other plane was flying to the
Black Sea resort city of Sochi, where President Vladimir Putin is
Putin returned to Moscow Wednesday night, despite being scheduled to
play host to the leaders of France and Germany in Sochi early next week.
The planes disappeared from radar screens about 11:00 p.m., and by
early Wednesday morning, the wreckage of both had been found – with no
survivors. Domodedovo airport said in a statement that both planes
"went through the standard procedure of preparation for flight ...
(and) the procedures were carried out properly."
Uncertainty over the cause of the crashes came after Sibir said that
it was notified that its jet had activated a hijack or seizure signal
shortly before disappearing from radar screens. Officials said the crew
of the other plane gave no indication that anything was wrong, but
witnesses on the ground reported hearing a series of explosions.
"There were three loud bangs on the window, like someone
knocking," said Nikolai Gorokhov, a local resident who was in his
home at the time of the crash.
Putin ordered an investigation by the FSB, and security was tightened
at Russian airports, where extra security officers and sniffer dogs were
called in to check passengers and luggage, as well as other transport
hubs and public places. The FSB sent experts to determine if explosions
caused the crashes, Interfax reported.
At about the same time the Tu-154 disappeared, the Tu-134 airliner
crashed in the Tula region, about 125 miles south of Moscow, officials
said. ITAR-Tass reported that the authorities believe the Tu-134 fell
from an altitude of 32,800 feet. Wreckage of the Sochi-bound Tu-154 was
found in the Rostov region, about 600 miles south of Moscow about nine
hours after it disappeared.
Rescuers quickly found the Tu-134's wreckage – a heap of metal
lying upside down in a large hay field, its tail severed from the
fuselage. An AP reporter saw one body bag lying near the tail, holding a
charred corpse. Emergency Ministry officers wearing camouflage and red
berets stood shoulder-to-shoulder and combed the tall grass for pieces
of the broken plane.
Maj. Gen. Gennady Skachkov of the Emergency Situations Ministry told
AP at the scene near the village of Buchalki that most of the bodies
were still in the cabin, but several had been thrown into the field. He
refused to speculate on the cause of the crash but said the crew had
given no warning.
Officials made conflicting statements about whether the signal from
the other jet indicated a hijacking or another severe problem on the
The Interfax and ITAR-Tass news agencies later quoted an unnamed law
enforcement source as saying that the signal was an SOS and that no
other signals were sent.
Oleg Yermolov, deputy director of the Interstate Aviation Committee,
said that it is impossible to judge what is behind the signal, which
merely indicates "a dangerous situation onboard" and can be
triggered by the crew during a hijacking or a potentially catastrophic
Sibir airlines, however, seemed to hint at foul play, saying on its
Web site that it "does not rule out the theory of a terrorist
The Emergency Situation Ministry's Rostov regional chief Viktor
Shkareda told AP the plane apparently broke up in the air and that
wreckage was spread over an area of some 25-30 miles, but the fuselage
and tail lay a few hundred yards apart at the edge of a forest. Bodies
lay near the plane, but most of the victims' bodies were trapped in the
mangled fuselage. The crash was found near Gluboky, a village north of
the regional capital Rostov-on-Don.
Siber said the Tu-134 belonged to small regional airline Volga-Aviaexpress
and was being piloted by the company's director.
Interfax quoted a Domodedovo airport spokesman as saying no
foreigners were on the passenger lists for either plane. But a spokesman
for the Israeli embassy said an Israeli citizen, David Coen, was on the
|Terror fear in plane crashes
RUSSIAN authorities fear terrorist attacks caused
two planes to crash almost simultaneously yesterday, killing at least 90
One of the planes apparently blew up after reportedly issuing a signal
it had been hijacked.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his main spy agency to
investigate the crashes, which happened south of Moscow, as security was
tightened at all airports.
Authorities have feared that separatists in war-torn Chechnya could
launch attacks linked to this Sunday's presidential election in the
In recent years, Chechen rebels have carried out a series of
terrorist strikes in Russia that have claimed hundreds of lives.
The two Russian-made Tupolev aircraft left Moscow's Domodedovo
airport within 40 minutes of each other early yesterday morning
Rescuers found wreckage from a Tu-154 jet about nine hours after it
sent a distress signal and disappeared off radar screens over the Rostov
region, 1000km south of Moscow. It was carrying at least 46 passengers.
About the same time a Tu-134 airliner with 44 people on board crashed
in the Tula region, about 200km south of Moscow.
There were no survivors.
"The fact that both planes took off from one airport and
disappeared from radars around the same time can show it was a planned
action," an aviation source said.
The Emergency Situations Ministry said the first plane probably broke
up in the air, with its wreckage spread over 50km.
The plane had been heading for the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.
The Tu-134, run by a small regional carrier, was bound for the
southern city of Volgograd when it fell from 10,000m.
Witnesses reported seeing an explosion before the plane crashed. It
was being piloted by the company's director.
Suspicions of terrorist involvement were heightened when officials
said the Tu-154's distress signal indicated it had been seized or
hijacked at 5.04am Melbourne time.
A Russian law enforcement source said the signal was an SOS and that
no other signals were sent.
But Emergency and Interior Ministry sources said the signal meant an
attack had occurred.
A flight data recorder, or black box, was recovered.
President Putin, who is holidaying in Sochi, has not commented on the
crashes, but he has ordered his Federal Security Service to investigate.
Former US National Transportation Safety Board managing director
Peter Goelz said if only one plane had gone down "you would look
toward some sort of aircraft issue".
"But with two of them going down so close together, it's awfully
ominous," he said.
August 25, 2004 4:30 PM
Hunt on for clues in Russian plane crashes
By Oleg Shchedrov
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Two Russian passenger planes have crashed almost
simultaneously, killing all 89 people on board in what
investigators say might have been a terrorist attack or simply a
The planes, which belonged to two different companies and were bound
for different destinations, took off from Moscow's Domodedovo
airport around an hour apart late on Tuesday and crashed within
minutes of each other.
President Vladimir Putin ordered the FSB security service to
investigate the case, something it is normally only asked to do where
terrorism is suspected. Security has been tightened at all Russian
airports since the crashes.
Later in the day Putin broke his summer holiday in the Black Sea
resort of Sochi and returned to Moscow, the Kremlin said.
Fear of attacks in Russia is already high ahead of next Sunday's
presidential election in restive Chechnya which separatist rebels have
vowed to disrupt.
A Tu-134 flying to Volgograd went down near the town of Tula south of
Moscow. Within minutes and 800 km (500 miles) away, a Tu-154
bound for Sochi crashed near the southern town of Rostov-on-Don.
The owner of the Tu-154, Sibir Airlines, said the pilots had triggered
a hijack alert just before their plane with 46 passengers and crew on
"The message was generated right before all contact was lost with
the plane and it disappeared from radar screens," Russia's number
airline said in a statement.
The company also said there were indications that its plane exploded
in the air.
"The wide distribution of large fragments indirectly confirms the
conjecture that the plane broke up in midair because of an
company statement said.
Volga-Aviaexpress, a small regional carrier which owned the Tu-134,
said the crew did not report any problems on board before the plane
crashed with 43 passengers and crew.
Interfax news agency quoted an aviation source as saying the
coincidence of both planes leaving from the same airport and
at the same time would suggest it was "a planned action".
"In such a situation one could not exclude a terrorist act,"
the source was quoted as saying.
FSB SEES NO PROOF OF TERRORIST ACT
But the FSB officials said they were more likely accidents.
"The main line of inquiry we are following is violation of the
rules of operating civil aircraft," FSB spokesman Sergei
Ignatchenko said this meant pilot error, mechanical defects or
problems with fuel quality -- prime suspects in Russia, where pilots
paid and planes often old.
"We are also examining the possibility of a terrorist act, but we
have no evidence to support this."
Sibir and Volga-Aviaexpress rejected the possibility of human or
technical faults, saying that the planes were properly checked before
flight and had experienced crews.
The Tu-134 was piloted by the head of the company and was carrying two
auditors from the aviation authority, who perform regular checks
of all air carriers.
The crashes came against a backdrop of violence in Chechnya, where
Moscow has been battling separatists for a decade. Rebels
launched a major raid in the local capital Grozny last week.
Moderate Chechen separatists denied any role in the crashes.
Asked if his group was responsible for the crashes, Akhmed Zakayev, a
spokesman for Chechnya's separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov,
told Reuters in London: "Of course not."
"To us any form of terrorism is absolutely unacceptable. We have
condemned it and continue to condemn it," he said.
Witnesses on the ground heard an explosion from the Tu-134 before it
crashed 150 km (90 miles) south of Moscow.
"Around 11 p.m. (8 p.m. British time), give or take five minutes,
there was this strange noise in the sky, then this torn-up book fell
garage," a local man told NTV television, holding up the book
with its tattered pages.
Local prosecutors opened criminal probes into both crashes.
Investigators recovered the flight recorders from both planes and sent
Moscow for analysis.
Interfax said more than 1,500 servicemen were involved in search
|Two Russian planes crash, cause unclear
By Oleg Shchedrov
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Two Russian passenger planes crashed almost simultaneously, killing all 89 people on board, in what investigators said Wednesday might have been a terrorist attack or simply a mysterious coincidence.
The planes, which belonged to two different companies and were bound for different destinations, took off from Moscow's Domodedovo Airport about an hour apart late Tuesday and crashed within minutes of each other.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the FSB security service to investigate the case, something it is normally only asked to do where terrorism is suspected. Security has been tightened at all Russian airports since the crashes.
Later in the day, Putin ended his summer vacation in the Black Sea resort of Sochi and returned to Moscow, the Kremlin said.
Fear of attacks in Russia is already high ahead of next Sunday's presidential election in restive Chechnya, which separatist rebels have vowed to disrupt.
A Tu-134 flying to Volgograd went down near the town of Tula, south of Moscow. Within minutes, a Tu-154 bound for Sochi crashed near the southern town of Rostov-on-Don, about 500 miles away.
The owner of the Tu-154, Sibir Airlines, said the pilots had triggered a hijack alert just before their plane with 46 passengers and crew on board crashed.
"The message was generated right before all contact was lost with the plane and it disappeared from radar screens," Russia's No. 2 airline said in a statement.
The company also said there were indications that its plane exploded in the air.
"The wide distribution of large fragments indirectly confirms the conjecture that the plane broke up in midair because of an explosion," a company statement said.
Volga-Aviaexpress, a small regional carrier which owned the Tu-134, said the crew did not report any problems on board before the plane crashed with 43 passengers and crew.
Interfax news agency quoted an aviation source as saying the coincidence of both planes leaving from the same airport and disappearing at the same time would suggest it was "a planned action."
"In such a situation, one could not exclude a terrorist act," the source was quoted as saying.
FSB SEES NO PROOF OF TERRORIST ACT
But the FSB officials said they were more likely accidents.
"The main line of inquiry we are following is violation of the rules of operating civil aircraft," FSB spokesman Sergei Ignatchenko said.
Ignatchenko said this meant pilot error, mechanical defects or problems with fuel quality -- prime suspects in Russia, where pilots are poorly paid and planes often old.
"We are also examining the possibility of a terrorist act, but we have no evidence to support this."
Sibir and Volga-Aviaexpress rejected the possibility of human or technical faults, saying the planes were properly checked before the flight and had experienced crews.
The Tu-134 was piloted by the head of the company and was carrying two auditors from the aviation authority, who perform regular checks of all air carriers.
The crashes came against a backdrop of violence in Chechnya, where Moscow has been battling separatists for a decade. Rebels launched a major raid in the local capital Grozny last week.
Moderate Chechen separatists denied any role in the crashes.
Asked if his group was responsible for the crashes, Akhmed Zakayev, a spokesman for Chechnya's separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, told Reuters in London: "Of course not."
"To us, any form of terrorism is absolutely unacceptable. We have condemned it and continue to condemn it," he said.
Witnesses on the ground heard an explosion from the Tu-134 before it crashed 90 miles south of Moscow.
"Around 11 p.m., give or take five minutes, there was this strange noise in the sky, then this torn-up book fell onto our garage," a local man told NTV television, holding up the book with its tattered pages.
Local prosecutors opened criminal probes into both crashes. Investigators recovered the flight recorders from both planes and sent them to Moscow for analysis.
Interfax said more than 1,500 servicemen were involved in search operations.
Rescuers had found the bodies of all 43 killed in the Tula crash, while the recovery effort in Rostov was taking longer, as wreckage from the crash was spread over several miles.
(Additional reporting by Oliver Bullough and Maria Golovnina in Moscow and Miral Fahmy in Dubai)
© Copyright Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved.
|'No evidence' of terrorism -89 dead in Russian double air
89 dead in Russian double air disaster
· Two passenger jets destroyed
· 'No evidence' of terrorism
· Chechens deny involvement
Wednesday August 25, 2004
Wreckage of the Russian Tu-134 airliner which crashed near the village
of Buchalki in the Tula region, about 200 kilometers south of Moscow
killing all 43 passengers and crew. Photograph: Misha Japaridze/AP
Russian investigators today said they had found no evidence that
terrorists were to blame for the near simultaneous crashes of two
passenger planes last night.
The two aircraft, which had taken off from Moscow's Domodedovo airport,
disappeared from radar screens within four minutes of each other at
around 11pm (1900 GMT) yesterday.
One plane crashed, while another apparently broke up in mid-air, killing
a total of 89 passengers and crew members.
Security was stepped up at Russian airports as experts voiced fears that
the loss of two aircraft from the same airport at almost the same time
must be more than a terrible accident. One of the planes had reportedly
issued a hijack warning before it disappeared from radar.
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, ordered the Federal security
service (FSB) to investigate - something it is normally only asked to do
when terrorism is suspected.
However, later in the day the FSB said studies of the wreckage had
revealed no evidence of terrorism. Investigators had recovered black box
recordings from both planes by this morning, and the FSB said it was
looking at other possible causes such as technical failures, the use of
poor quality fuel, breaches of fuelling regulations and pilot error.
The airlines that had operated the two lost planes rejected the
possibility of human or technical faults, saying the aircraft were
properly checked before the flights and had experienced crews.
Authorities said rescuers had found wreckage from one of the planes, a
Tu-154 jet that had been on its way to the Black Sea resort of Sochi,
around nine hours after it had disappeared from radar screens 600 miles
south of Moscow over the Rostov region. The Sibir Airlines flight had
been carrying 46 passengers. 'We are considering an act of terror as one
possibility, especially after we received an automatically generated
telegram from the Sochi air control centre that the plane had been
hijacked,' an airline spokesman said earlier.
Officials, however, seemed unsure whether the signal indicated a
hijacking or another severe problem on the aircraft.
At around the same time the Sibir flight vanished, a Tu-134 aircraft
carrying 43 people crashed in the Tula region, around 125 miles south of
Moscow, officials said. The emergency situations ministry later said
everybody on board had been killed. The Volga-Aviaexpress flight had
been travelling to the southern city of Volgograd.
Suspicion immediately centred on Chechen rebels. Russian authorities had
expressed concern that Chechen separatists could carry out attacks
linked to this Sunday's presidential election, and rebels have been
blamed for a series of terror strikes that have claimed hundreds of
lives in Russia over recent years.
Moderate Chechen separatists, however, denied any role in the crashes.
"Our government has nothing to do with terrorist attacks. Our
attacks only target the military," Farouq Tubulat, a spokesman for
the Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, told al-Jazeera
"This is part of the Russian propaganda plan to besmirch the
struggle of the Chechen people."
Officials said the crew of the Volga-Aviaexpress flight had given no
indication that anything was wrong, but witnesses on the ground reported
hearing a series of explosions.
Emergency workers reported seeing a fire in the Rostov region where the
Tu-154 went missing. However, search efforts were hampered by rainy
weather, and it was hours before the wreckage was found.
The emergency situations ministry's regional chief in Rostov, Viktor
Shkareda, said the plane had apparently broken up in the air, with
wreckage strewn over an area of around 25 to 30 miles. Body parts were
said to have been discovered along with fragments of the plane near
Gluboky, a village north of the regional capital, Rostov-on-Don.
In the Tula region, rescuers found the Tu-134 jet's wreckage in a field.
It was broken into two parts with the fuselage upside down and severed
from the tail.
Nikolai Gorokhov, a local resident who was at home at the time of the
crash, said: "There were three loud bangs on the window, like
|Russia crash recorders may
Thu 26 August, 2004 15:02
By Oleg Shchedrov
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Investigators have examined flight recorders from
Russia's mystery double air crash in which 89 people died, but one
official doubted they would be of any use.
"The tapes... did not show anything. Practically speaking they
switched themselves off immediately. And so we failed to get any
information," Vladimir Yakovlev, Russian President Vladimir Putin's
envoy for the southern region, told ORT television on Thursday.
Suspicion persisted in the Russian media that terrorist attacks had
caused the twin crashes on Tuesday within minutes of each other despite
official statements they were most likely the result of technical fault
or human error.
"Russia now has its own September 11," said a front-page
headline in Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily, in reference to the 2001 suicide
attacks on the United States involving four hijacked commercial planes,
which killed about 3,000 people.
One aircraft, a Tu-134 flying to Volgograd, went down south of
Moscow. Moments later, a Tu-154 bound for Sochi on the Black Sea crashed
near the southern city of Rostov-on-Don.
The planes had both left from Moscow's Domodedovo airport.
Investigators were deciphering flight recorders recovered from the
wreckage but Yakovlev said preliminary checks indicated they would not
yield anything useful and indicated he believed a terrorist act was
behind the disasters.
The source of Yakovlev's information was unclear and Transport
Minister Igor Levitin, heading the official investigation, said it was
too early to pin down the causes.
"We have no clear idea today on what has happened. Not all the
flight recorders are in a fit state to be read immediately. Experts will
work on them today and tomorrow to make the tapes more acceptable for
reading," he told NTV television.
Asked to comment on Yakovlev's remarks, a spokeswoman for Levitin
said: "Yakovlev does not have any links with the commission."
Flags flew at half-mast and light entertainment shows were dropped
from television out of respect for the victims as relatives went to the
crash sites to identify their kin.
Sibir Airlines, the owner of the Tu-154, said pilots had triggered a
hijack alert just before their plane with 43 passengers and crew on
It said the fact that wreckage was scattered so widely indicated
there may have been a mid-air explosion.
Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov said he could not rule out a
terrorist act or human and technical errors.
But a spokesman for the FSB security service said initial
investigations gave no evidence of a terrorist attack and focused more
on possible faults with the planes or human error.
The incidents came against a backdrop of mounting violence in
Chechnya, where Moscow has long been battling separatists.
Rebels launched a major raid in the local capital last week and
promised more ahead of Sunday's presidential election. Moderate Chechen
separatists denied any role in the crashes.
Russia's media was sceptical of the official line.
"It looks like before the Chechen presidential election the
authorities simply do not want to admit an obvious fact: Only Chechen
fighters are capable of carrying out terrorist attacks of such
scale," the Kommersant daily newspaper said.
"Next week (after the poll) things will clear up," it
quoted an unnamed FSB member of the investigation team as saying.
"Until then, let the disasters be blamed, say, on technical fault
or poor quality fuel. This is dictated by the situation."
Russia considers human error in jet crashes
Thursday, August 26, 2004
A government commission searching for the cause of the nearly
simultaneous crashes of two airliners began work at one of the sites
on Thursday after workers finished combing over the shattered plane,
but clues to clear up the mystery were not immediately reported. The
crashes that killed all 89 people aboard the planes on Tuesday took
place just five days before an election called by the Kremlin in
warring Chechnya, whose separatist rebels are blamed in a series of
suicide bombings in recent years. Officials had expressed concern
that militants might try to carry out attacks ahead of the vote
Sunday. But despite the timing and circumstances of the crashes,
officials say that no firm evidence of terrorism has yet been found
in the planes' charred wreckage and that they're looking into the
possibilities of poor fuel and human error.
The data recorders from both planes have been recovered in
apparently good condition, the ITAR-Tass news agency quoted the
transport minister, Igor Levitin, as saying. Levitin heads the
commission investigating the crashes.
The commission on Thursday went to one of the crash sites, where a
Tupolev 134 with 43 people aboard went down about 200 kilometers, or
120 miles, south of Moscow. Workers ended their search work there,
but were continuing to comb the other wreckage, of a Tupolev 154
with 46 people aboard that crashed in southern Russia.
"There is still no clear-cut concept of what occurred, because
the procedure of deciphering the data recorders will be conducted
more than once," Levitin was quoted as saying.
Officials were holding back on speculation of terrorism, but the
crashes nonetheless raised serious concerns about security at
Russian airports. President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered the
government to draft legislation to turn over responsibility for
airport security to the Interior Ministry, which runs the police and
paramilitary forces, according to news reports.
Putin also designated Thursday as a national day of mourning.
The planes, a Sibir airlines Tupolev 154 and a Tupolev 134 belonging
to tiny Volga-Aviaexpress airline, disappeared from radar around 11
p.m. on Tuesday. The Tupolev 134 was headed to the southern city of
Volgograd and the other plane to the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.
Both had taken off from the single terminal at Moscow's newly
renovated Domodedovo airport, the Tupolev 154 around 9:35 p.m. and
the smaller Tupolev 134 about 40 minutes later.
An Israeli Embassy spokesman said an Israeli citizen, David Coen,
was on the jet bound for Volgograd, but the ITAR-Tass news agency
said two Israelis were on the plane.
The Foreign Ministry of Ukraine said on Thursday that a Ukrainian
man was on the Sibir flight.
|Top Russian Official: Plane Terror Likely
By MARIA DANILOVA
MOSCOW (AP) - A top Russian official acknowledged on Thursday what many citizens already suspected - that terrorism was the most likely cause of two jetliners crashing minutes apart, a feeling reflected in a newspaper headline warning that ``Russia now has a Sept. 11.''
Just a day after officials stressed there were many possibilities besides terrorism, presidential envoy Vladimir Yakovlev told Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency that the main theory ``all the same remains terrorism.''
He said the planes' flight recorders had not provided any clues to the disaster.
Additionally, Transport Minister Igor Levitin confirmed Sibir airlines' report that its crew activated an emergency signal shortly before the plane disappeared from radar screens. Visiting the site of the crash, he said, however, that details were slim because ``no verbal confirmation from the crew was received'' saying what the problem was.
Officials previously said there was no indication of trouble from a Volga-Aviaexpress airliner that also crashed late Tuesday, although people on the ground reported hearing a series of explosions.
Russian media also raised questions about a possible link between the crashes and an explosion a few hours earlier at a bus stop on a road leading to Domodedovo airport, where the two doomed planes took off. Without citing any evidence, the reports suggested the blast, which wounded four people, might have been an effort to distract attention.
The suspicion of terrorism came after earlier warnings from officials that separatists might try to carry out attacks before an election this Sunday in Chechnya to replace the war-torn region's assassinated pro-Kremlin president. The rebels have made attacks in Moscow and other cities, hijacked planes outside Russia and allegedly staged suicide bombings.
``I am inclined to think that it is a terrorist act, because there are too many coincidences,'' said Ruben Suryaninov, an elderly retiree. ``What needs to happen so that two planes going from the same airport would bang at the same moment?''
``It's too suspicious,'' agreed Natalia Kozhelupova, a physicist who was out on a national day of mourning for the 89 people killed in the crashes. Russia's tricolor flag flew at half-staff and television canceled entertainment programs.
Despite Yakovlev's statement about terrorism, officially the government's investigation was still looking at all possibilities, including bombs, hijackers, mechanical failure, bad fuel and human error. Officials said no evidence had been found pointing to terrorism.
The government had hoped the jetliners' flight data recorders would shed some light, but Yakovlev told state-run First Channel that experts found both boxes shut off before indicating any problems.
Yakovlev, the president's envoy for southern Russia, where one of the planes crashed, said both boxes ``turned off immediately'' - an indication ``that something happened very fast.''
The planes - a Sibir Tu-154 with 46 aboard and a Volga-Aviaexpress Tu-134 with 43 people - disappeared from radar almost simultaneously around 11 p.m. Tuesday. The Tu-134 was headed to the southern city of Volgograd and the other plane to the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, where President Vladimir Putin had been vacationing. They had taken off about 40 minutes apart.
A government commission appointed to investigate the crashes traveled Thursday to the site where the Tu-134 crashed about 120 miles south of Moscow. Emergency crews had already completed their work there, but other workers continued to check wreckage of the Tu-154 a few hundred miles south.
``There is still no clear-cut concept of what occurred, because the procedure of deciphering the data recorders will be conducted more than once,'' Levitin, the transport minister and head of the commission, was quoted as saying by ITAR-Tass.
Oleg Panteleyev, an independent aviation expert in Russia, said that just because no clear evidence of terrorism had been found didn't mean it that wasn't the cause.
Any other explanation ``seems to be purely impossible,'' he told The Associated Press. ``But then again absolutely incredible things can happen in life.''
There also was doubt about whether Russians could count on their government to tell the truth.
``I never trust what the authorities are saying, but in this case, I don't know - it could have been an accident or a terrorist act,'' said Yevgeny Skepner, a 37-year-old computer programmer.
Many Russians have ingrained doubts about the government's candor after the confused and contradictory reports on the sinking of the nuclear submarine Kursk in 2000 and the still-murky 2002 seizure of a Moscow theater by Chechen rebels.
Still, Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent military analyst who is often critical of the government, said the government would have nothing to gain in covering up a terror attack.
``For the companies, the aviation industry, society and Russia as a whole, it would be better ... because otherwise it means that things are really bad here - we have bad planes that crash to the ground one after another,'' he said. ``The fact that it is not being called a terrorist act, means they have no such evidence ... because hiding a terrorist act is impossible.''
Panteleyev disagreed. ``To miss such a major terrorist act for the security services means to acknowledge their impotence,'' he said.
© Copyright The Associated Press.
Russia: Traces of explosives found on plane
Militant group reportedly claims responsibility for downing jets
The Associated Press
Updated: 7:37 a.m. ET Aug. 27, 2004
MOSCOW - Traces of explosives have been
found in the wreckage of one of two airliners that crashed nearly
simultaneously earlier this week, the Federal Security Service said
Friday, a day after a top official acknowledged that terrorism was
the most likely cause of the crashes.
A duty officer at the agency, the main
successor to the Soviet-era KGB, confirmed reports on Russian news
agencies that cited agency spokesman Sergei Ignatchenko as saying
that “preliminary analysis indicates it was hexogen.”
The announcement came several hours after a
Web site known for militant Muslims published a claim of
responsibility for the twin crashes, connecting the action to
Russia’s fight against separatists in Chechnya.
The Russian news reports said the explosive
traces were found in the wreckage of a Tu-154 that was one of two
planes that crashed Tuesday night, killing at least 89 people.
Although the planes disappeared from radar
screens within minutes of each other after taking off from the same
airport, Moscow’s Domodedovo, Russian officials had held back from
connecting them to terrorism, citing bad fuel and human error as
other possible causes.
The Russian presidential envoy for the
region that includes Chechnya, Vladimir Yakovlev, however, conceded
Thursday that terrorism was seen as the most likely cause.
The crashes took place just five days
before presidential elections were to be held in Chechnya, where
rebels and Russian forces have been fighting for nearly five years.
Officials had warned of concern that separatists could try to commit
attacks ahead of the elections, which are to fill the post of the
late Kremlin-backed Chechen president Akhmad Kadyrov, who was
assassinated by a bomb in May.
Foreign terrorism link?
Friday’s claim of responsibility did not refer to al-Qaida, but a
group called “the Islambouli Brigades of al-Qaida” claimed
responsibility for last month’s attempt to assassinate
Pakistan’s prime minister-designate.
Russian officials have repeatedly contended that the rebels who have
been fighting Russian forces in Chechnya for nearly five years
receive help from foreign terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida.
A spokesman for the Federal Security
Service said he could not immediately comment on the Web site’s
The statement did not give details on how
the alleged attacks on the Russian planes occurred.
“Our mujahedeen, with God’s grace,
succeeded in directing the first blow which will be followed by a
series of other operations in a wave to extend support and victory
to our Muslim brothers in Chechnya and other Muslim areas which
suffer from Russian faithlessness,” the statement said.
It was not clear whether the statement
claimed that Chechens themselves staged attacks on the planes.
Chechen rebels blamed for series
Chechen rebels and their supporters are blamed for a series of
suicide bombings and other attacks in Chechnya and the rest of
Russia over the past several years, including last year’s suicide
bombings of an outdoor rock concert in Moscow and another outside a
hotel near Red Square.
Any explanation other than terrorism
“seems to be purely impossible,” independent aviation expert
Oleg Panteleyev said Thursday.
There also was doubt among ordinary
Russians on whether they could count on their government to be open
“I never trust what the authorities are
saying, but in this case, I don’t know — it could have been an
accident or a terrorist act,” said Yevgeny Skepner, a 37-year-old
Many Russians have ingrained doubts about
the government’s candor after the confused and contradictory
reports on the sinking of the nuclear submarine Kursk in 2000 and
the still-murky 2002 seizure of a Moscow theater by Chechen rebels.
© 2004 The Associated Press.
Islamic group claims downing twin
* Islambouli Brigade had also claimed
attack on Shaukat Aziz
* Russia blames terrorists as traces of explosives are
found from one plane
MOSCOW: Russia said on Friday terrorists were behind one
of the passenger-jet crashes as an Islamic group, which
previously claimed an attack on prime minister-designate
Shaukat Aziz, claimed responsibility for the twin plane
crashes to avenge the killing of Muslims in Chechnya.
“The Islambouli Brigades declare that our mujahideen
have succeeded in hijacking two Russian planes,” said
the group in a statement posted on a website. “The
mujahideen have succeeded despite the problems that they
encountered at the beginning. There were five mujahideen
in each plane.”
The attacks “will be followed by a series of operations
aimed to back and assist our brothers in Chechnya and
other regions suffering from Russia”, the claim warned.
The statement said it would soon publish the wills of the
attackers of the Russian planes. “We will not rest until
we direct successive blows to the despotic and infidel
regimes in the region.” The authenticity of the
statement could not immediately be confirmed, and Russian
officials had no comment.
A group by the same name claimed attack on prime
minister-designate Shaukat Azzi in July. The use of the
name Islambouli was a likely reference to Lieutenant
Khaled al-Islambouli who took part in the assassination of
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in Cairo in 1981.
“According to our initial investigation, at least one of
the air crashes ... came as a result of a terror
attack,” a spokesman for Russia’s FSB intelligence
service was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
The spokesman, Sergei Ignachenko, announced that
investigators had discovered traces of Hexogen, a powerful
explosive with both military and civilian uses, in the
wreckage of one of two planes that crashed almost
simultaneously on Tuesday.
Ignachenko said no similar evidence of terrorism had yet
been found in the wreckage of the other plane.
Russian news agencies said suspicion was focused on a
woman from Chechnya who was aboard one of the planes
because no one had come forward to identify or claim the
corpse. The head of Chechnya’s interior ministry, Akhmed
Dakayev, was quoted by Interfax as saying that another
woman, a resident of the Chechen capital Grozny, was
aboard the second plane and that he had been instructed to
confirm the identities of both. agencies
Russia Finds Explosive Traces on 2nd Plane
By DAVID McHUGH
.c The Associated Press
MOSCOW (AP) - Russian investigators found explosive
residue on the wreckage of the second of two airliners
that crashed minutes apart, a security spokesman said
Saturday, adding to evidence that terrorists breached
security at one of the country's most up-to-date airports.
The high explosive hexogen was found on the Tu-134
airliner that went down Tuesday south of Moscow, said
Sergei Ignatchenko, spokesman for the Federal Security
Service, or FSB, Russia's domestic security agency.
Traces of the same explosive were found on the Tu-154
jetliner that crashed near Rostov in southwestern Russia,
officials said Friday. The two planes took off from the
same terminal at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport and went off
radar screens within minutes of each other hundreds of
miles apart on different routes. All 90 people on board
The discoveries pointed to terrorism as the cause of
both crashes - suggesting that militants had succeeded in
getting bombs past airport security to attack Russia's
civil aviation system, a vital industry in this vast
Transport Minister Igor Levitin announced that police
would now help screen passengers and bags - currently the
responsibility of the airports.
Additionally, the ministry will require airlines to print
full passport details from passengers on tickets, the
ITAR-Tass news agency reported. Russian citizens have
separate passports for internal and foreign travel.
Ignatchenko said the FSB - a successor to the
Soviet-era KGB - had been directed by President Vladimir
Putin to study other countries' practices to improve air
``International experience in fighting terrorism on air
transport is being studied, including proposals to use the
Israeli system ... which today is recognized as the most
effective in the world,'' Ignatchenko said.
Hexogen was used in a series of apartment bombings that
killed more than 300 people in Russia and were blamed on
separatist rebels from Russia's Chechnya region. Russian
officials have warned of more rebel attacks ahead of
Sunday's election to choose a new president for the region
to replace Moscow-backed Akhmad Kadyrov, killed in a bomb
attack May 9.
The Russian government has portrayed the election - which
a Kremlin-supported police official is expected to win -
as a sign that peace is returning to a region ravaged by a
decade of fighting between Russian troops and insurgents.
Russian soldiers occupying Chechnya are still regularly
killed and wounded by small-scale attacks and bombings.
Speculation that rebels were behind an attack on the
planes grew with news that authorities were looking into
the backgrounds of two female passengers who boarded under
Chechen names, one on each plane.
Both women had booked tickets on the flights at the last
minute and were the only victims whose relatives did not
contacted authorities after news of the crashes, officials
said. One of the women gave only her surname and first
initial in booking the ticket, according to reports.
Several suicide bombings in recent years have been blamed
on Chechen women who lost husbands or brothers in the war
and chaos that have plagued the southern republic for most
of the past decade.
On Saturday, the newspaper Izvestia cited a Chechen
village leader, Dogman Akhmadov, as saying that the
brother of one of the women had disappeared three or four
years ago and was believed to have fallen victim to
Russian forces, who are widely accused of civilian
abductions and summary executions in Chechnya.
A Web site statement, posted Friday and signed the ``Islambouli
Brigades,'' claimed responsibility for the crashes,
warning that they were in support of the Chechen rebels
and marked just the first in a series of planned
operations. The claim's veracity could not be confirmed.
Friday's claim came from a purported group called ``the
Islambouli Brigades of al-Qaida,'' which claimed
responsibility for last month's attempt to assassinate
Pakistan's prime minister-designate.
Russia claims that the Chechen rebels have been joined by
hundreds of foreign Islamic fighters, many of them al-Qaida
or with links to the terrorist group led by Osama bin
08/28/04 13:56 EDT
Militant Group Says It Downed Russian Jets
By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF
.c The Associated Press
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - A claim of responsibility for the
downing of two Russian planes appeared on a Web site known
for militant Muslim comment Friday.
The statement, which accused Russians of killing Muslims in
Chechnya, was signed ``the Islambouli Brigades.'' A group
with a similar name has claimed at least one previous
attack, but the legitimacy of the group and the authenticity
of such statements could not be verified.
Russian officials have said terrorism was the most likely
cause of Tuesday's plane crashes, which killed 89 people.
``We in the Islambouli Brigades announce that our holy
warriors managed to hijack two Russian planes and were
crowned with success though they faced problems at the
beginning,'' the statement said without elaborating on the
Friday's statement said five mujahedeen (Islamic fighters)
were on board each plane and their wills will be published
The statement did not explain how the hijackers boarded
the planes, how they downed them or give any other details.
``Russia's slaughtering of Muslims is continuing and will
only stop when a bloody war is launched,'' the statement
said. ``Our mujahedeen, with God's grace, succeeded in
directing the first blow, which will be followed by a series
of other operations in a wave of to extend support and
victory to our Muslim brothers in Chechnya and other Muslim
areas which suffer from Russian faithlessness.''
A July 31 Web statement signed the ``Islambouli Brigades of
al-Qaida'' claimed responsibility for the attempt to
assassinate Shaukat Aziz, Pakistan's prime
minister-designate. Friday's claim did not refer to al-Qaida,
the international terror network led by Osama bin Laden.
Lt. Khaled Islambouli was the leader of the group of
soldiers who assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat
during a military parade in Cairo in 1981.
08/27/04 11:01 EDT
WTC PLANE CRASHES
OF PLANES CRASHING AND MILITARY GOGGLES
... 5-21-00 - DREAM - There was something
surreptitious going on with some airplanes.
In real life these planes were real size, but in my hand, the planes
- WORLD TRADE CENTER - DREAM PAGE
... than two weeks before the terror attacks, a
Los Angeles woman called Katy dreamed
that four planes crashed in a single night. Here is Katy’s dream
report as ...
and Islamic Holidays 2002 - 2004 - Dream of Terrorism
... Well this dream said many things I
think especially it told you of destruction in
a way you might find the day , and if the hijackers of the planes
at 911 ...
OF A POSSIBLE PLANE CRASH
DREAM OF A POSSIBLE PLANE CRASH. ... A
tenant of mine worked for Boeing in their repair
department.She said that she wouldn't fly in Boeing planes
herself because ...
LINE - BLUE LINE - THE DREAM AND THE REALITY
... Firstly, here is the dream symbolism I
was given: ... detail the results of government
air strikes (while editing out LTTE military units the planes are
trying to ...
COMING FROM THE NORTH IN CROP DUSTING PLANES?
... TERRORISM - WORLD TRADE CENTER - DREAM
PAGE. ... ... PASSENGER LISTS FROM PLANES
USED TO DAMAGE BUILDINGS, AND CRASH IN PENNSYLVANIA. ... ...
... organization for young people when I was 14
that went up in planes to look ... NOTE:
On Sunday following this dream, there was a show on TV where they
showed a new ...
of Osama bin Laden videotape - December 13, 2001
... people will be upset with him. (Another
person's voice can be heard recounting
his dream about two planes hitting a big building). ...
OF THE SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 EVENTS AT THE WORLD TRADE ...
... public statement telling the United States
what they already have figured out; that
there's been an attack by hijacked planes on the ... THE DREAM
AND THE REALITY. ...
York Airport Disaster
... My real reason for writing to you is in
reference to your airport dream which I ... and
about 30 buildings, including a faux village designed to fool enemy planes.
OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTER - 9-11-2001 - NUMBER SYMBOLISM
... His father rebuked him and said, "What
is this dream that you have had? ... The two flight
numbers of the planes which hit the twin towers were 11 and 175. ...
OF THE GREAT EARTHCHANGES - MAIN INDEX