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Last updated at 18:38 GMT, Friday, 14 January 2011

Russia blames Polish crew for plane crash

Summary

12 January 2011

Russia has blamed the Smolensk air crash, which killed the Polish president and nearly 100 others in April, on Polish pilot error. Investigators said the crew did not follow instructions to land at a different airfield due to bad weather.

Reporter:
Steve Rosenberg

Head of Russia's Interstate Aviation Commission, Tatyana Anodina.

Head of Russia's Interstate Aviation Commission, Tatyana Anodina.

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It was an air disaster that shocked the world. On April 10th last year, a Polish government jet crashed in bad weather near the Russian city of Smolensk. The Polish President Lech Kaczynski and dozens of senior Polish officials were killed.

They'd been on their way to take part in a ceremony commemorating a World War II massacre of Polish officers. Today Russian investigators laid the blame for the crash on the Polish crew of the Tupolev 154 jet. Instead of redirecting to a reserve airfield, the pilots had pushed ahead with their original flight plan, determined to land at Smolensk Severny airport, despite the poor visibility.

Investigators claim that the crew were under psychological pressure to do that from high-ranking passengers on board, including the Polish air force chief who was in the cockpit at the time of the crash.

Steve Rosenberg, BBC News, Moscow

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Vocabulary

air disaster

plane crash

commemorating

remembering

massacre

mass murder or execution

laid the blame

assigned responsibility

pushed ahead

continued

flight plan

route for their journey

poor visibility

difficulty in being able to see out clearly

psychological pressure

mental stress or strain

high-ranking

very important or influential

cockpit

area at the front of a plane where the pilot works

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