Russian Boeing 737 crashes with 88 aboard

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Aeroflot-Nord Boeing 737-500 2 days before it crashed in Perm Krai, Russia.
Image: Andrey Nogin.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

According to Russian officials, an Aeroflot-Nord, Flight 821, a Boeing 737-500 crashed near the city of Perm at 3:15 a.m. local time with 88 people aboard, all feared to have been killed. There were six crew and 82 passengers from 21 different nations including seven children and one baby on board the plane. Reuters quotes the Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio station in Russia that all on board were dead.

The plane took off at 1:12 a.m. local time and was traveling from Moscow to Perm when officials at the Bolshoye Savino Airport lost contact with the aircraft at about 1,800 meters in altitude. The plane crashed just outside the airport, while on final approach to land. One report says it crashed into a ravine while another states it crashed into a swampy area. Wreckage is reported to cover nearly 3 sq mi (4 km2). The wreckage burst into flames and one Russian report says the pilots tried to avoid hitting residential homes that were near the scene. The plane's wreckage was found a short time after the crash. Part of the main Trans-Siberian Railway line was damaged as a result of the crash and has been closed.

The city of Perm, Russia, location of the crash

"We have found the aircraft. It came down within the city limits (in Perm) in a patch of waste ground. Initial reports are of no casualties on the ground," said the Emergencies Ministries who also said that there was "no damage or deaths on the ground."

Witnesses in apartments near the crash describe it as sounding like a "war [had] started", followed by a "huge flames." One witness reports that the plane was at a 30 to 40 degree angle when it smashed into the terrain.

The aircraft, registered as number VP-BKO, was sixteen years old, originally operated by Xiamen Airlines.

Officials are currently investigating the cause of the crash, but Sky News in Australia reports that there is no indication that terrorism was involved. TIME reports that officials have located the plane's two black boxes and are analyzing the information.

This is said to be Russia's worst commercial air disaster since August 2006 when 170 people died after a Tupolev Tu-154 passenger jet, flight 612, owned by St. Petersburg-based Pulkovo Airlines, crashed in the Ukraine. An investigation concluded that it had been hit by lightning.


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