MOSCOW, August 22 (RIA Novosti) - Thirty bodies have been found at the site of a Russian airliner crash in eastern Ukraine, emergencies services said Tuesday.
A total of 154 adults, 11 crew and six children were onboard the three-engine Tu-154 airliner that crashed outside Donetsk close to the Russian border Tuesday afternoon, Russia's air traffic controller service said.
The Tu-154, which is the mainstay of the Russian aircraft fleet, was en route from the resort of Anapa on the Black Sea in southern Russia to St. Petersburg, Russia's second biggest city. Its flight plan took it over Ukrainian territory.
"On Tuesday, at 15.39 [local time - 12:39 GMT], a Tu-154 airliner of the [St. Petersburg-based] Pulkovo Airlines ... sent a SOS signal and disappeared from radars," a source in the emergency services said. "Preliminary data suggests that the plane crashed 45 kilometers (30 miles) north of Donetsk."
But a spokesperson for the emergencies services told Russian television channel RTR that the plane sent a SOS signal at 15:37 local time and vanished from the screens two minutes later.
President Putin has been informed about the accident and has ordered Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov to set up a commission into crash. Russian rescuers are also on stand-by to fly to the area.
The tragic incident is one in a series of Russian crashes in the past few years.
On July 9, an A-310 airbus owned by S-7 Airline crashed killing 124 people on the way from Moscow to Irkutsk, the home airport for popular tourist destination Lake Baikal in Siberia. It veered off the runway upon landing and caught fire after hitting a concrete wall and plowing into garages.
On May 3, another Airbus operated by Armenian carrier Armavia crashed as it was preparing to land at the airport of Adler, off Russia's Black Sea coast. All 113 passengers and crew died.
In October 2001, Siberia Airline (now S-7) Tu-154 en route from Tel Aviv to Novosibirsk in Siberia was accidentally shot down by a Ukrainian missile S-200, killing 78 people onboard.
In July 2001, another Tu-154 crashed near Irkutsk, claiming the lives of 145 people.