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Russian air disaster victims' relatives leave for Perm

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A plane carrying relatives of some of the 88 people killed in Sunday morning's air crash has left Moscow for the Urals city of Perm, Moscow's Sheremetevo Airport announced.
MOSCOW, September 14 (RIA Novosti) - A plane carrying relatives of some of the 88 people killed in Sunday morning's air crash has left Moscow for the Urals city of Perm, Moscow's Sheremetevo Airport announced.

A Boeing-737-500 owned by Russian flagship airline Aeroflot crashed in a wooded area a few dozen meters from residential buildings at around 3:15 a.m. (23:15 GMT Saturday) with 83 passengers and five crew members on board.

A spokesman for Sheremetevo airport told RIA Novosti that the relatives had been put on a scheduled Aeroflot flight, and that if other relatives wish to travel to Perm, a reserve aircraft is available to take them there.

Aeroflot has promised to pay bereaved families up to 2 million rubles ($80,000) in compensation per victim.

President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have sent messages of condolence to the families.

The Perm Territory's emergencies ministry department earlier published a list of those killed in the crash, which includes seven children and 21 foreign nationals.

Investigator Vladimir Markin told RIA Novosti that technical failure was the most likely cause of the disaster, which damaged a section of the Trans-Siberian rail line.

Rail workers have started repairing the damaged track, a 50-meter (160-foot) section linking Yekaterinburg to Perm.

"Work to clear the ground has begun, after which specialists will start repairing the track. According to preliminary estimates, the work will take up to four hours," Russian Railways said.

Russian Transportation Minister Igor Levitin, who is heading a government commission investigating the catastrophe, told RIA Novosti that the plane's black boxes had been handed over to experts to be decoded.

An eyewitness described to the news channel Vesti-24 how the plane had caught fire while still airborne, and hurtled downwards "like a falling comet."

The disaster is the worst since Pulkovo Flight 612, which crashed in eastern Ukraine on August 22, 2006 en route from the Black Sea to St. Petersburg, killing all 160 passengers and 10 crew.

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