Archive for Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Planes collide in midair

Dozens feared dead in crash over southern Germany

July 2, 2002

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— A Russian passenger jet with dozens of people aboard and a two-pilot cargo plane collided late Monday over southern Germany in a fireball that scattered flaming wreckage over a wide area, and all aboard both aircraft were believed killed, officials said.

A Bashkirian Airlines Tu-154 from Moscow bound for Barcelona, Spain, and the Boeing 757 carrying cargo were believed to have been flying at an altitude of about 36,000 feet when they hit, said Wolfgang Wenzel, a police spokesman in the city of Tuebingen.

"At such an altitude, it would be a wonder if anyone survived," he said.

Uta Otterbein, a spokeswoman for German Air Traffic Control, said the Tu-154 had 80 passengers and 13 crew aboard. But Wenzel said the German Embassy in Moscow had reported only 57 passengers and 12 crew. German police earlier said up to 150 were killed, basing the assessment on the number of passengers they thought were aboard.

The cargo plane had two pilots aboard, Otterbein said. Another air controller, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the plane was flying for the DHL delivery service on a trip from Bahrain to Brussels, Belgium.

Rescue workers began recovering bodies of some of the victims after the two planes collided at 11:43 p.m., Wenzel said.

Dozens of people called police stations in the area saying they saw a large ball of fire in the sky at the time of the crash, Wenzel said.

At least one building was reported on fire, but there were no immediate reports of casualties on the ground. Hundreds of rescuers worked through the night locating wreckage and bodies, while helicopters flew overhead looking for burning or other visible parts of the planes.

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