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One Russian Passenger Plane Crashes, Second Jet Missing - 2004-08-25


A Russian airliner crashed south of Moscow and a second jet was reported missing within minutes of each other Tuesday evening after taking off from the Russian capital.

A jet carrying 42 people crashed late Tuesday near the town of Tula. Emergency workers have found some of the wreckage, but there is no word on survivors. Witnesses told Russian news agencies that they saw an explosion just before the crash. The plane was headed from Moscow to Volgograd.

Meanwhile, authorities are looking for a second Russian plane with 44 people that disappeared from radar about the same time as the Tula crash. Earlier reports say that plane had crashed, but no wreckage has been found.

That jet was reported missing about 140 kilometers from the southern city of Rostov-on Don. It was heading from Moscow to the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Federal Security Service to begin an immediate investigation. The agency gets involved in investigations when there are suspicious circumstances.

The news comes just days before a presidential election in Chechnya, where Russian troops have been battling Muslim separatists for most of the past decade.

A series of deadly explosions blamed on Chechen rebels has claimed hundreds of lives in recent years. Russian security officials say at least four people were injured in a blast at a Moscow bus stop Tuesday.

Information for this reportis provided by AFP and Reuters.

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