Russia is observing a day of mourning in memory of at least 170 people who died in a plane crash on Tuesday, with religious services, flags at half-mast and television schedules changed to reflect the sombre mood. Most of those killed were Russians. Victims’ relatives have travelled to the disaster zone in Ukraine for a ceremony there today. Among those who died were 45 children. Although lightning was initially blamed for the crash, it remains unclear just why the plane, bound for St Petersburg from the Black Sea resort of Anapa, came down north of Donetsk in Ukraine. Its black box flight recorders will now be studied.
A criminal inquiry has been opened into a possible violation of safety rules. But officials at Russia’s Pulkovo Airlines – which operated the doomed plane – say it was properly maintained. There is also confusion over the number on board, with 170 people listed by the airline but authorities in Russia and Ukraine saying 171 bodies have been recovered.