Report: Russia Airliner With 171 Aboard Crashes

MOSCOW, Russia -- A Russian plane with 171 people aboard crashed in eastern Ukraine Tuesday, after the pilot reported a fire on board and heavy turbulence, emergency officials said.

A Tupolev TU-154, similar to the one that crashed in Ukraine

At least 30 bodies have been pulled from the wreckage, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Donetsk in a hard-to-reach area, the Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry told CNN.

CNN's Matthew Chance, quoting Ukraine officials, said the plane had 160 passengers -- including 39 children -- and 11 crew members on board.

The officials added that there was "no likelihood of any survivors," Chance said.

"The plane is on the ground and is ablaze," Ihor Krol, director of the ministry's press service, told the Russian news agency Interfax.

He said rescuers from the ministry, including fire brigades, were heading to the crash site.

Flight 612 was en route from the Black Sea resort town of Anapa to St. Petersburg.

Interfax said the Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft crashed shortly after 3:30 p.m. Moscow time (1130 GMT).

"Early reports say the plane crashed 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of Donetsk," Irina Andrianovaa, a senior spokeswoman for the ministry, told Interfax.

"At 3:37 p.m. Moscow time the plane sent an SOS signal and at 3:39 it disappeared from radar screens," Andrianova said.

Andrianovaa said the plane belonged to Pulkovo airlines, which is based in St. Petersburg.

The three-engine Tu-154 is the workhorse of Russia's commercial fleet, carrying about half of all Russian air passengers.

It was designed as the Soviet counterpart to the Boeing 727 and the European-made Trident, but with the added ability to operate from short, rough runways. About 1,000 were produced.

Although a popular aircraft, it has had a checkered history and has been involved in at least 30 air disasters since it went into service in 1968.

The former Soviet air fleet has been plagued by chronic safety problems since the 1991 collapse of the country.

Experts have blamed poor maintenance, safety violations and cost-cutting for a high accident rate.

Source: CNN


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