Russian investigators ruled out a terrorist attack as the cause of a plane crash which killed 88 people, saying an engine fault was responsible.
All 88 people aboard the plane died in the crash
An Aeroflot Nord Boeing 737 passenger jet crashed near Russia's Ural mountains on Sunday, Sept. 14, as it readied to land in the city of Perm on a flight from Moscow, killing all 88 people on board, including 21 foreign nationals.
Investigators linked the crash to technical failure and a fire in the right engine, saying preliminary results supported the engine failure theory.
Investigators could not rule out pilot error
Pilot error, however, could not be completely ruled out as an accident. A Prem airport dispatcher told Russian media the doomed plane's pilot had violated regulations.
Plane caught fire in the air
Russian Transportation Minister Igor Levitin said late Sunday he had no information to suggest the crash was caused by a terrorist attack.
The Russian airliner reportedly caught fire in the air and lost control. The fallen wreckage burned just meters from a residential community and debris blocked a section of Russia's Trans-Siberian railway.
Aeroflot confirmed there were no survivors. Among the victims were citizens of Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Germany, the United States, France, Switzerland, Latvia, Turkey and Italy. Seven children died.
Among the dead was General Gennady Troshev, a government advisor and a key general in Russia's war in Chechnya, the country's transportation ministry was cited as saying by the news agency Interfax.
'It looked like a comet'
Irina Andrianova, spokeswoman for the Civil Defense Ministry, said the aircraft lost contact with air traffic control at around 1,800 meters (5,900 feet) off the ground. The plane exploded into flames upon hitting the ground.
A woman who witnessed the plane go down over her house told Vesti24 television the plane burst into flames in the air.
"It was burning in the sky. It looked like a falling comet," she said.
Aeroflot has worked to reform its negative image
Aeroflot has worked hard to reform its previous negative image, and has fought ongoing concerns over its ageing fleet and airline safety regulations.
Airline Chief Valery Okulov announced he was stripping Aeroflot Nord, a subsidiary of Aeroflot, of the right to use its name from Monday, Sept. 15, onwards.
The plane's flight recorders have been recovered and will be analyzed. Russia's Echo Moskwy radio said planemaker Boeing joined the investigation efforts in the country's biggest plane catastrophe in two years.