19 May 2004 -- A report released today by Germany's federal air accidents board concluded that a Swiss-based air traffic controller was to blame for a mid-air collision of two planes in 2002 that killed 71 people, mostly schoolchildren from the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan.
The report found that the Swiss air-controller who was responsible for tracking a DHL cargo plane and a Russian charter plane made mistakes and was overworked.
Joerg Schoeneberg, the chief investigator in the inquiry, described the mistakes that led to the collision.
"The first immediate cause [of the collision] was that the [Swiss] air-traffic controllers did not realize soon enough the imminence [of the crash] and directions to the TU-154 to descend were given at a time when safe vertical and horizontal distances to the Boeing could no longer be guaranteed."
The Swiss controller was later stabbed to death in a suspected revenge killing.
Swiss President Joseph Deiss sent a letter of apology to Russian President Vladimir Putin today.