Russian air crash investigators say an airliner that crashed in Siberia, killing all 88 people on board, was probably brought down by technical defects in the starboard engine.
The 16-year-old Boeing 737-500, which was being operated by a subsidiary of the national carrier Aeroflot, rained debris onto the Trans-Siberian railway line, forcing its closure.
Flight 821 was on its final descent into Perm in the Urals on a flight from Moscow. It vanished from radar screens at an altitude of 1100 metres.
One woman, who lives near the crash site, said: “I felt an explosion, it threw me out of bed. My daughter came running into the bedroom crying that war had broken out. Our neighbours saw it. They said it was on fire when it was still in the air. It looked like a comet and the whole sky was lit up like a firework display.”
Aeroflot said of the 88 who died, 21 were foreign nationals – the majority came from Azerbaijan and Ukraine, but there were also individual citizens from France, Switzerland, Latvia, the US, Germany, Turkey and Italy.
The airline said initial investigations turned up no evidence of foul play. The deputy director of Aeroflot, Lev Koshlyakov, said: “We think it is very doubtful that it was the result of a terrorist attack, because at the scene there were no traces of explosives as we know for now.”
Among those reported killed was a senior Russian military figure. General Gennady Troshev had been an adviser to President Medvedev.