Russian jet with 170 aboard crashes in Ukraine

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Russian plane has crashed in the Ukraine killing all 170 passengers on board, according to the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry. The Tu-154 passenger jet owned by St. Petersburg-based Pulkovo Airlines flight number 612 had a roster that included at least 45 children and 11 crew members onboard. It crashed in eastern Ukraine at approximately 2:30 p.m. near the Russian border. A distress signal is reported to have gone off moments before the crash. The plane was on its way to St. Petersburg from Anapa. Wreckage and many bodies have been found.

Ukrainian officials are reporting at least 160 people onboard with at least 10 crew members on hand.

According to Russian officials, terrorism did not play a role in the crash and that the aircraft may have encountered heavy turbulence which caused the plane to go down. The plane then caught fire after hitting the ground and breaking into several pieces.

Other reports say that the plane was "hit by lightning."

"The plane most likely was hit by lightning. There was no damage on the ground. After it fell, it broke apart and burst into flames," said Irina Andriyanova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry.

Reports say that there are no survivors and at least 30 bodies have been recovered.