No Survivors in Russian Jet Crash in the Ukraine

A Russian passenger jet with at least 170 people aboard crashed in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, and a Russian news agency cited Ukrainian emergency officials as saying there were no survivors.

Tetyana Lytvynova, a spokeswoman for Ukraine's Emergency Situations Ministry, could not immediately confirm the RIA-Novosti report.

Russian news agencies said officials had ruled out terrorism as a cause.

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The Tupolev Tu-154 plane was en route from the Russian Black Sea resort of Anapa to St. Petersburg when it disappeared from radar screens while flying over eastern Ukraine around 2:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) after sending an SOS message, Russian and Ukrainian emergency officials said.

Russian emergency spokeswoman, Irina Andriyanova, said that 30 bodies had been found. She said there were 171 people aboard: 160 passengers, including six children, and 11 crew members. Lytvynova said there were 160 passengers and 10 crew members on board. The discrepancy could not immediately be explained.

"According to their information, 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," Andriyanova said in televised comments.

Interfax cited witnesses as saying the plane was intact when it hit the ground. RIA-Novosti later cited Andriyanova as saying "terrorism has been ruled out."

The plane disappeared from radar screens two minutes after the crew sent an SOS signal, Russian spokeswoman Yulia Stadnikova said. The plane belongs to St. Petersburg-based Pulkovo airlines, which is among Russia's largest air companies.

Rescuers were working at the site of the crash, found near the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, about 400 miles (640 kilometers) east of Kiev, Ukrainian officials said.

The Interfax news agency quoted Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Igor Krol as saying a fire broke out on the plane at 10,000 meters (32,800 feet), and that the crew decided to try to make an emergency landing. However, it quoted Russian aviation official Alexander Neradko as saying that the plane might have run into strong turbulence.

The incident was the third major plane crash in the region this year, and came less than two months after at least 124 people died when an Airbus A-310 of the Russian airline S7 skidded off a runway and burst into flames on July 9 in the Siberian city of Irkutsk.

On May 3, an A-320 of the Armenian airline Armavia crashed into the Black Sea while trying to land in the Russian resort city of Sochi in rough weather, killing all 113 people aboard.

Russian-made Tu-154s are widely used by Russian airlines for many regional flights.

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