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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pilots Found Slow to React in Far East Crash

The pilots of an airliner which crashed in the Far East last month, killing all 97 people on board, seemed slow to react to an unexplained abnormality in its flight, Russia's NTV television has said.


Quoting unnamed sources, the independent channel said Sunday that preliminary data from the wreckage of the Tupolev Tu-154 indicated that the crew appeared oblivious to a possible fault.


"One minute before the plane plunged to the right the pilots were discussing the conditions for the landing at Khabarovsk," the reporter said, referring to the airliner's destination Dec. 7.


The data suggested that the automatic pilot spent most of the half hour between take-off from Sakhalin Island and the crash trying to correct a list to starboard, it said.


Investigators have been reported as saying the aging aircraft, operated by the local Khabarovsk Airlines, plunged abruptly from 10,000 meters into a snowy hillside so remote it took searchers a week and a half to find it.


NTV said the cause of the dive was still unclear. But the reporter recounted the final words on the cockpit voice recorder as the plane hurtled to the ground at some 200 meters per second, or 720 kilometers per hour.


"Listing, listing, the list is increasing, height, height, we're falling, we're falling, height, ground, we're falling, height," he said, before playing a recording of what sounded like a cry.