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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Experts Fly To China Crash Site

Russian aviation experts will travel to China on Wednesday to help investigate the crash of a Russian-made Tu-154M jet that killed all 160 aboard in the country's worst recorded aviation disaster. Monday's tragedy marked the second time that a Tu-154M crashed shortly after takeoff this year. In January, an Air Baikal flight from Irkutsk to Moscow plunged into the Siberian taiga minutes after departure, killing all 124 passengers and crew as well as a farmhand on the ground. Investigators noted that the crew had ignored a red warning light in the cabin before takeoff, but blamed an inadequate instruction manual. Russian officials said it was too soon to tell if there are any similarities between the two crashes. "This jet was sold new from the factory" eight years ago, said Vitaly Goryachev, director of the State Scientific-Research Institute of Civil Aviation. "It operated without any problems since then." Officials from Tupolev, the manufacturer of the plane, as well as from the Interstate Aviation Committee, the Transport Ministry and the engine manufacturer will travel to the site near Xian, a popular tourist destination, according to Alexander Neradko, the chief of the Transport Ministry's aviation accident investigation division. The plane, operated by China's Northwest Airlines, plunged downward 14 minutes after takeoff, just seconds after the pilot radioed that the wings were trembling, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Among the dead were two Americans, an Italian family of four, and two British citizens, the Associated Press reported from Beijing. China uses both Western-built and Russian-made aircraft, said Jing Sheng Zhang, general manager of the local office of Air China. Russian planes are especially popular with the growing number of smaller regional Chinese airlines that cannot afford Western jets, he said. Goryachev said China had increased its purchases of Russian planes since relations between the two countries thawed in the late 1980s.