Russian Airliner Crash Kills 169

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A Tupolev 154 operated by Pulkovo Airlines, of Russia, crashed in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, with no survivors. Reports varied from 169 to 171 killed. The aircraft was flying at about 33,000 feet in stormy weather, with heavy rains and strong winds, and the crew issued several emergency calls. Some reports said the airplane had caught fire in flight and the crew was trying to make an emergency landing. Others said it didn't start to burn until after it hit the ground. Authorities don't suspect terrorism. The airplane hit a hillside field and was destroyed. Both data recorders have been recovered by investigators. It was the third major incident involving a Russian airliner in less than four months. Tuesday, Russian officials said a criminal inquiry will look into a possible violation of safety rules. "The whole thing does not portend well," Stuart Matthews, president of the Flight Safety Foundation, told The New York Times. "To have three major fatal accidents like this in a short space of time is pretty bad." The jet was on its way from the Russian Black Sea coast city of Anapa to Saint Petersburg.