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Ukraine: Missile Said To Have Downed Russian Airliner

Kyiv, 4 October 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Contradictory reports are coming from Ukraine on the possibility that a Ukrainian army missile may accidentally have downed a chartered Russian airliner with at least 76 people on board. The airliner, which was flying from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk, exploded in flight and crashed into the Black Sea.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry said that its armed forces were engaged in live missile-firing exercises on the Black Sea at the time. But the ministry said that the direction and the range of the missiles ruled out the possibility that they struck the aircraft.

However, AFP is quoting a Ukrainian navy official, Igor Larichev, as saying that a Ukrainian army missile accidentally shot down the airliner, a Sibir Airlines Tupolev-154.

In Moscow, Emergency Ministry officials said rescuers so far have failed to find any survivors from the crash.