Two Russian Passenger Jets Crash

Two Russian passenger jets crash (CNN)

Two passenger jetliners have crashed over Russia in nearly simultaneous incidents, with as many as 94 people feared killed. A ministry spokeswoman said the wreckage of one jet was found ablaze in the Tula region, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Moscow. Search and rescue teams were at the site searching for possible survivors, but the ministry said none of the 34 passengers and eight-member crew are believed to have survived. The wreckage of the second jetliner has also been found, Russian state television reported early Wednesday, citing aviation officials. It was reported missing minutes after the first crash. They did not say whether any survivors were found.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered security services to launch an immediate investigation, Russian news agencies reported early Wednesday. The flights took off from Moscow within minutes of each other Tuesday night and were bound for cities in southern Russia. Witnesses reported seeing the first plane explode before it crashed, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.

Witnesses saw blast before Russia plane crash (Reuters)

Witnesses saw an explosion on board a Russian passenger plane just before it crashed late on Tuesday near the town of Tula, Interfax news agency quoted local authorities as saying on Wednesday.

The Emergencies Ministry said a three-engine TU-134 with 34 passengers and eight crew flying from Moscow to Volgograd crashed near Tula. It said another plane, a four-engine TU-154 with 44 passengers and eight crew on board, went missing near the southern city of Rostov-on-Don

Jet crashes near Moscow; 2nd believed down (MSNBC)

A Russian airliner crashed south of Moscow, and another passenger jet went missing about the same time after both took off from Moscow, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported Wednesday. There was no word on survivors. The agency also reported that witnesses said they saw an explosion before the Tula region crash. A Tu-134 airliner that apparently had 42 people aboard crashed in the region, 125 miles south of Moscow, at about 10:56 p.m. Tuesday, ITAR-Tass reported, citing the Emergency Situations Ministry. A Tu-154 with 44 people aboard went missing about the same time near Rostov-on-Don, about 600 miles south of Moscow, ITAR-Tass said.

Authorities initially said they found no wreckage, but at least one later news report appeared to confirm the crash of the second aircraft. CNN, citing aviation officials quoted by Russian television, reported that wreckage of the second jetliner had been found. Earlier, however, the agency said emergency officials reported that the second plane crashed about three minutes after the first one.

President Vladimir Putin has ordered the FSB security services to investigate Tuesday night’s incidents, Russian news agencies said Wednesday. A government source told Reuters that normally the FSB gets involved in such investigations only when there are suspicious circumstances. The plane that crashed near Tula was headed to the southern city of Volgograd, while the plane that disappeared was flying to the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, where Putin is vacationing, ITAR-Tass reported.

In Washington, a senior U.S. State Department official said, “We are obviously concerned by the news. We’re following developments closely and trying to determine the facts.” The U.S. Homeland Security Department was monitoring the situation but was not implementing any additional security measures in the United States, spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said. When Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Andrey Denisov was told of the initial report of two near-simultaneous crashes, he said, “Now we have to see if there’s terrorism.” Raising that possibility, NBC News Moscow bureau chief Tom Bonifield reported that “the war in Chechnya has raised, off and on since 1994, a real problem for Russia.” A series of deadly explosions in recent years has claimed hundreds of lives in blasts that have been blamed mostly on Chechen separatist rebels. “We’ve seen repeated attacks — including here in Moscow — that have been caused by Chechen rebels,” Bonifield said, adding that Russian transportation officials “are fairly rigorous about protecting their aviation industry.” The crash comes only days before Sunday’s presidential election in the breakaway republic of Chechnya. Pro-Russian President Akhmad Kadyrov was killed by a bombing in May.

I had an e-mail from Jeff Quinton about this earlier but didn’t pay it much attention; planes crash. But not two of them this close together. Obviously, terrorism is the most likely explanation.

Glenn Reynolds is suspicious, too.

Tacitus concurs.

Pejman Yousefzadeh “I’ve seen this before. It doesn’t end well.”

Juliette thinks it’s Russia’s 9/11.

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture, Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

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  2. Paul says:

    Witnesses saw blast before Russia plane crash

    Witnesses always say that, no matter what the cause. Take that with a box of Kosher salt.

  3. Wizbang says:

    Multiple Terrorist Attacks in Russia?
    Something odd seems to be happening in Russia. FoxNews is reporting that multiple airliners have crashed and/or gone missing. Simultaneously. With other reports of bombs exploding. All very shaky information at this point. Jeff Quinton is carrying the …

  4. Russian Airliner Down, Another Missing
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  5. Report: Missing Plane sent Hijack Signal
    Go here for all previous liveblogging of this story. Via Rusty Shackleford, ABC News quotes an Interfax report that government officials have said that the missing Tu-154 sent a panic signal indicating a hijacking at 11:04 p.m. Moscow time. This…

  6. Blogs of War says:

    Two Russian Airliners Down – Hijack Signal Reported
    Russian aviation is not in the best of shape (I’m being very charitable) but the fact that these events happened almost simultaneously has lots of people worried.

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  8. RUSSIAN AIRLINER UPDATE
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  9. legion says:

    Yes, two at the same time is almost certainly not a coincidence. I just wonder if it was an Osama/Al Qaida job or strictly Chechens. Anyone have an update on how closely AQ and the Chechens have been working together? Could we be looking at the first significant test of a non-western AQ “franchise”?