Soviet Jetliner Crashes With 82 Aboard
A Soviet Aeroflot jetliner with 82 people aboard crashed in heavy fog while approaching East Berlin’s Schoenefeld airport Friday. East German media said 12 survivors were pulled from the flaming wreckage.
The official East German news agency ADN said 73 passengers and nine crew members were on the Soviet TU-134 flight to East Berlin from Minsk, about 600 miles away in the Soviet Union.
ADN said the exact number of dead and injured was not known.
Most of the people aboard were killed and the identification of the victims was “exceptionally” difficult because the bodies were burned, the news agency said. ADN said most of the victims were East Germans.
No Americans were reported aboard when the plane went down in nearby Bonsdorf township.
The state-run television news said eight survivors were brought to East Berlin’s Koepenick Hospital, with two in critical condition.
Associated Press photographer Elke Bruhn-Hoffmann drove to within a half-mile of the crash site before being stopped by police. She said the plane appeared to have crashed in a wooded area just beyond East Berlin’s city limits about two miles from Schoenefeld.
Bruhn-Hoffmann said local residents told her the crash occurred at about 5:30 p.m., after nightfall, in heavy fog.
Hundreds of East German police were deployed to restrict access to the crash site to official rescue vehicles arriving from downtown East Berlin, Bruhn-Hoffmann said.
East German television reports showed the wreckage of the jetliner, with firemen playing hoses on smoldering wreckage. A report by the Soviet news agency Tass referred to “flaming debris.”
The news agency said a special commission under the leadership of Transport Minister Otto Arndt has been set up to investigate the crash.
West Berlin authorities said they were awaiting official information on the crash.
The TU-134 is a small passenger jet, similar in size to the Boeing 737. It can carry about 90 passengers.
About 650 to 700 TU-134s are in service, flown mainly by Aeroflot and East Germany’s Interflug airlines.
In previous Soviet plane crashes:
--On Aug. 11, 1971, an Aeroflot TU-104 crashed at Irkutsk airport in Siberia, with 97 killed.
--Oct. 13, 1972, an Ilyushin-62 crashed near Moscow; 176 were killed.
--June 3, 1973, a TU-144, a supersonic jet patterned on the Concorde, exploded over France. Six crew members were killed as were eight people on the ground.
--Dec. 28, 1976, a TU-104 crashed at Moscow’s international airport, killing 72.
--Jan. 13, 1977, a TU-104 crashed at Alma Ata in Kazakhstan, killing 90.
--Aug. 17, 1979, two Aeroflot airliners collided over the Ukraine, killing 173.