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Russian Flight From Israel Explodes With 76 On Board

By Digital Journal Staff     Oct 5, 2001 in Technology
MOSCOW - A Russian chartered airliner carrying Israelis to Siberia for family visits exploded Thursday and crashed off the Black Sea coast with at least 76 people on board. U.S. officials said an anti-aircraft missile fired during a Ukrainian training exercise appeared to have accidentally brought down the plane.
The explosion on the flight from Tel Aviv raised fears of another terrorist attack, but a U.S. official, speaking in Washington on condition of anonymity, said "this looks to be a military training exercise gone terribly awry." The Ukrainian Defense Ministry, however, said none of its weapons could have hit a civilian aircraft, and Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had no reason to doubt the denial.
"The weapons that were being used during this exercise could not reach the area where our Tu-154 was flying," Putin said. "What I told you as of this moment is based on what our Ukrainian partners have told us and we don't have any reason not to trust them."
Earlier, Putin, who has taken a high-profile position in the international anti-terrorist coalition that has formed following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, said a terrorist act could have caused the Tupolev 154 to explode. The plane tumbled into the sea 114 miles off the Russian coastal city of Adler on the Georgian border.
The plane was on its way to the Siberian city of Novosibirsk. It belonged to Sibir Airlines, which is based in Novosibirsk, about 1,750 miles east of Moscow, and had been chartered, Sibir officials said. A spokesman for the airline said that there were 64 passengers and 12 crew members aboard. All the passengers were Israeli. Most of the passengers were immigrants from the former Soviet Union who were en route to Novosibirsk for family visits during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
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