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Top general among 88 dead in Russian plane crash

MOSCOW (BNS): A Russian airliner crashed in the Urals city of Perm killing all 88 passengers onboard including a top Russian general, a Chechnya war veteran.

Colonel general Gennady Troshey was decorated with the title of Hero of Russia and the Order of Golden Star. He has been identified as one of the 88 casualties on the ill-fated flight that went down on Sunday morning.

Russian news agencies reported that the general was on the hit-list of Chechen rebels for his role in the operations against them. The Russian government so far has ruled out that terrorists were involved in any way with the crash.

The Aeroflot-Nord (a regional airline of Aeroflot) aircraft, a Boeing 737-500, was leased from a Dublin-based company in May 2008. The officials said there was no problem with the condition of the aircraft. The airline said families of all the passengers on the ill-fated flight would be paid a compensation of $80,000 each.

Investigators from Moscow have already reached the accident site and debris was being scanned for possible clues that could lead to the cause of crash. Aeroflot said the aircraft, manufactured in 1992, was earlier operated by Air China.

The dead include 21 foreign nationals. Agencies reported that five persons abandoned their plan to take the flight and decided to visit Perm by train. The foreign nationals were mainly from Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Latvia, US, Germany, Turkey and Italy.

However, preliminary investigation has revealed that the accident took place due to a technical fault. The plane lost communication with ground control when it descended to 1100 metres and the air controllers too lost the aircraft from its radar screen. The black boxes have been recovered from the crash site.

The debris of the aircraft was found near the city limits of Perm. The aircraft has been completely destroyed, eyewitness were reported as saying. The aircraft crashed near the residential buildings but no one on the ground was hurt.

An airline spokesperson said that there was no problem with the aircraft, which was last inspected earlier this year. Agencies reported that a section of Trans Siberian railway was also shut down due to damage to the main east-west train track.

Russia and the surrounding regions have seen some of the worst air disasters in recent years. The safety record of airlines flying here is among the worst, claimed experts. The last big crash was reported from Ukraine in 2006 when 170 people died in a Tupolov-154 crash.

Boeing 737-500 is an older generation variant of single aisle twin engine aircraft from the 737 family. The older generation of 737s has been involved in a large number of air crashes. Boeing maintains that it is one of the safest aircraft. It is somewhat similar to 737-200 in length. More than 300 of these aircraft have been sold to operators around the world.

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