Russian Jet Crashes after Sending SOS

A Russian passenger jet with 171 people aboard crashed in Ukraine on Tuesday after sending an SOS message, emergency officials said.

The Tupolev Tu-154 plane, en route from the Russian Black Sea resort of Anapa to St. Petersburg, disappeared from radar screens while flying over Ukraine, Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Yulia Stadnikova said. Minutes later, the ministry said wreckage from the plane had been found on the ground.

Another ministry spokesman, 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.

The plane disappeared from radar screens two minutes after the crew sent an SOS signal, Stadnikova said. The plane belongs to Pulkovo airlines, which is among Russia's largest and is based in St. Petersburg, she said.

RIA-Novosti news agency reported that the wreckage was found near the Ukrainian city of Donetsk. It said rescuers were working at the site.

It 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 company 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.