May 2, 2006

Jet crashes off Russia

By Oliver Bullough

MOSCOW (Reuters) - An Armenian airliner carrying 113 people
crashed into the sea off Russia's southern coast on Wednesday,
and rescue workers found a first body at the site, officials
and local media said.

A spokesman for the emergencies ministry told local news
agencies rescue workers had also found baggage, body parts,
pieces of the shattered plane and oil floating on the Black Sea
at the site of the crash.

"The fragments were found six km (4 miles) from the shore
near the airport of Adler. The search operation continues,"
Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said.

Beltsov said the plane was an Airbus 320 and had vanished
from radar screens at 2.15 a.m. (6:15 p.m. EDT) near Sochi, a
Russian resort near the Georgian border that has been popular
with top officials since Soviet times.

The ministry said the aircraft belonged to Armavia, the
largest airline in the former Soviet Republic of Armenia, which
has three Airbus 320s of the kind that crashed.

The plane was carrying at least five children. Heavy rain
and poor visibility were complicating the search for survivors.

Adler is the name of the region of Sochi that houses the
town's airport.

Armavia was not available for comment, and its Web site did
not give any information about the crash.