RUSSIAN AIRLINER EXPLOSION APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN AN ACCIDENT

October 5, 2001–U.S. officials say unofficially that the Sibir Airlines Tupolev-154 airliner en route from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk in Siberia may have been accidentally shot down by a Ukrainian surface-to-air missile during live-fire training exercises, according to a Reuters report. Seventy-seven passengers were on the Russian airliner. The plane went down approximately 114 miles off the Russian coast city of Adler, which borders Georgia. The sea is 3,000 feet deep there.

Ukrainian defense officials deny that its anti-aircraft missiles caused the crash and say the crash could have resulted from an act of terrorism. Some U S. officials do not agree with the terrorism theory, but would not publicly say who caused the crash. The United States is investigating the incident in conjunction with officials of the countries involved.

The Russian-built Tupelov 154 airliner, operated by Siberia Airlines as Flight 1812, was a weekly charter on its way from Tel Aviv to the Siberian city of Novosibirsk when the crew of a nearby Armenian plane reported seeing it explode and disintegrate into the sea.

A Siberian Airlines official told Reuters the airliner was off course when it exploded. In light of the recent terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the possibility of terrorism had been immediately raised.

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