An airliner flying from southern Russia to the country's second city of St Petersburg with at least 154 people on board crashed yesterday in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry said.
The ministry said helicopters circling the site about 45km north of the regional town of Donetsk saw the Tu-154 in flames. Russia's Emergencies Ministry said 30 bodies had been found at the site.
The Russian ministry said 160 passengers and 10 crew were aboard the aircraft belonging to Pulkovo Airlines. Ukrainian officials said the plane had 154 people on board.
It had been on a flight from the southern Russian resort of Anapa to its home base of St Petersburg. The flight's route crossed Ukrainian territory.
"The aircraft issued an SOS at 15.37 [Moscow time -- 1137 GMT]. At 15.39, it disappeared from radar screens," a spokeswoman for Russia's Emergencies Ministry said.
Igor Krol, a spokesman for the Ukrainian ministry told 5th Channel television that, according to preliminary information, a fire broke out in the plane at an altitude of 10,000m.
Interfax news agency quoted the head of Russia's air traffic controllers' service as saying the aircraft went down after entering an area of severe turbulence.