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Russian Relatives Visit Crash Site - 2002-07-04

Relatives of the Russian schoolchildren who were killed in a mid-air plane crash over southern Germany are visiting the crash site.

The relatives and family members flew to the airport in Friedrichshafen, Germany, not far from the crash site. They carried armloads of red and white carnations, the traditional flowers of funerals in Russia.

At least 130 people made the trip on the Bashkirian Airlines Tu-154. Psychiatrists and local officials from the mainly Muslim region east of Moscow are among those making the trip.

The families are expected to remain in and around the crash site for only a few hours, before returning to Russia later in the day. Many are carrying personal items such as dental records and hair brushes to assist authorities in the task of identifying loved ones.

The children were among 69 people on the Russian charter jet that collided late Monday with a cargo plane from the DHL international delivery company. Only the pilot and co-pilot were aboard the cargo jet.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said the people of Russia share in the relatives' grief. Mr. Kasyanov said he is sure investigators will reach an objective conclusion as to the cause of the crash. And he said he hopes preventative measures can be instituted internationally to avoid any similar incidents in the future.

German, Russian, and American experts are taking part in the investigation into what caused the mid-air collision.

The local government in Ufa, in Russia's Bashkortostan region, arranged the special flight to Germany for family members of the crash victims. The local government also has promised to pay for the victims' burials.