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Russia's Transportation Minister Igor Levitin sees no link between the air crashes of August 24
In response to reporters' question whether it was a fatal contingency or there was some link between these two tragedies, the minister said: "These are different airlines, the planes were flying to different towns, I do not think this is the variant". Mr. Levitin heading the State Commission on the Tu-134 and Tu-154 crash on August 24, confirmed that lots of versions were considered at the moment, including among others "both the human factor and the planes' technical condition". He believes it is too early to emphasize any of them. "We can not say what happened here yet," the minister told reporters, pointing out that there were a lot of versions. He stressed that the reasons would become clear following analysis of the flight recorders' decoded readings and expert works on examining the wrecks. The minister also confirmed that bodies of all 46 victims had been found at the crash site in the Rostov region. Igor Levitin admitted that the SOS button in the Tu-154 aircraft, which crashed in the Rostov region, had been pressed, however "the flight recorders did not register any voice confirmation". According to Mr. Levitin, the experts working with the so-called black-boxes need a day or two to start decoding. Oleg Ermolov, deputy chairman of the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC), said that the expert had experienced problems while decoding the flight recorders of the crashed Tu-134 and Tu154: the tape in the device had been damaged. According to him, the IAC experts are restoring the tape by pasting it together, and than they will decode it. "The tape decoding time will depend on the damage extent. Just imagine, a sheet of paper can be torn either in a hundred pieces or in two pieces," explained Mr. Ermolov. He said that the IAC had five flight recorders to decode. "The TU-154 mounts three devices, one being sound recorder, another - emergency recorder and the third - operational recorder. The Tu-134 has one sound recorder and one parameter recorder," explained Mr. Ermolov. The search operations at the Tu-154 crash site in the Rostov region are completed, said Ivan Teterin, head of the Emergencies Ministry's Southern Regional Center. The main work will be directed to sorting the aircraft's fragments, which will be transported to Rostov-on-Don for further examination, said Mr. Teterin. The search operations covered the area of 4.07 square kilometers and involved over a thousand personnel and four helicopters, he said. By now, the fuselage dismantling has practically been completed, added Mr. Teterin. The two aircraft crashed with a short interval late on August 24. The two air crashes killed 89 persons.
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