News / Europe

Russia Seeks Clues Over Plane Crash that Killed 50

Wreckage is seen at the site of a Tatarstan Airlines Boeing 737 crash at Kazan airport, russia, Nov. 18, 2013.
Wreckage is seen at the site of a Tatarstan Airlines Boeing 737 crash at Kazan airport, russia, Nov. 18, 2013.
Reuters
Russian investigators sifted through the charred remains of a Boeing 737-500 airliner on Monday in the search for clues about what caused it to crash and burst into flames, killing all 50 people on board.
 
Sunday's crash raised new concerns about Russia's poor safety record as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics in the southern city of Sochi in February, an event on which President Vladimir Putin has staked much personal political prestige.
 
Residents of Kazan wiped away tears as they lay flowers at the airport where the plane crashed in windy weather, with some venting anger over Russia's bad safety record. Flags flew at half mast in the city 800 km (500 miles) east of Moscow.
 
“The whole town is in mourning,” said Elvira Khadiulina, a nursery-school teacher who came to the airport to mourn friends who died in the crash. “These people were only a few minutes from being safe on the ground.”
 
The Tatarstan Airlines flight from Moscow had been trying to abort its landing when it nosedived into the runway, killing all 44 passengers and six crew.
 
“The plane just fell,” Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov told reporters. “The plane was vertical, practically vertical.”
 
But he added the black box flight recorders, which were found on Monday, would need to be analyzed for more information.
 
Tatarstan Airlines said it was grounding all its Boeing 737 pending the results of the investigation into the crash.
 
“The main versions are pilot error and technical problems, including equipment failure,” Alexander Poltinin, a senior regional investigator, said of the crash.
 
He said the plane's fuel tank had exploded on impact and it could take weeks for all the dead to be identified in the wreckage, scattered over a wide area.
 
“There are mostly just fragments of bodies, few corpses,” local health ministry official Nail Nigmatullin told the Interfax news agency.
 
The son of the president of the oil-rich province of Tatarstan and the regional head of the FSB intelligence service were named among those killed. The dead also included two foreigners, a Briton and a Ukrainian.
 
“Just awful"
 
“It's unimaginable - it's awful, just awful,” said a man who gave his name as Dmitry as he left flowers at the airport gate. “Everyone already knows what state our national aviation is in, so ... this isn't surprising.”
 
Russia and the other former Soviet republics combined have one of the world's worst air-traffic safety records, with a total accident rate almost three times the world average in 2011, according to the International Air Transport Association.
 
In Soviet times, flag carrier Aeroflot had a virtual monopoly of the airline industry, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, many small private companies emerged.
 
IATA said last year that global airline safety had improved but accident rates had risen in Russia and the ex-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States.
 
The government says it is confident about security and safety matters at the Sochi Olympics and the city's international airport has been upgraded for the Games.
 
There had been no technical problems reported with the leased 23-year-old plane prior to the flight and regular maintenance between flights had been conducted, officials said.
 
Boeing said in a statement it was prepared to provide technical assistance to the investigators.
 
Kazan is the capital of the largely Muslim region of Tatarstan. There was no suggestion of foul play.
 
A new runway was built at the airport before the World University Games, held in the city in July. Kazan is one of the venues for the soccer World Cup that Russia is hosting in 2018.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs