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

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years 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.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs