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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Mourns For Victims Of Crash

STAVROPOL, Southern Russia -- The city of Stavropol observed a day of mourning Thursday for the victims of an airliner crash, while experts tried to learn what caused the disaster.

Rescuers recovered and identified the bodies of 42 of the 50 people believed killed when the Antonov-24 airliner crashed after taking off from Stavropol, said Alexander Avdoshin of Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry.

Flags were flying at half-mast in Stavropol, the home city of 34 of the victims, and the first victims were buried Thursday, according to Interfax.

The search team was working on the cockpit, trying to recover the remains of the crew, Avdoshin said.

Plane fragments and human remains were scattered over a 6-kilometer-wide area at the crash site near the city of Cherkessk, 90 kilometers south of Stavropol.

None of the 41 passengers and nine crew members believed to have been aboard survived the aircraft's plunge from an elevation of about 6,000 meters. The plane was bound for Trabzon, Turkey.

The plane's black boxes -- voice and data recorders -- were found Wednesday in satisfactory condition and sent to Moscow. Experts there will work to decipher the information and determine what caused the crash, according to Boris Andreyev, an official with the Interstate Aviation Committee, which investigates air incidents in the former Soviet republics.

Unidentified experts told Itar-Tass the plane had fallen apart in the air, judging by the large distance between the fragments and eyewitness evidence. But they did not speculate on the cause of the crash.

"I heard a powerful blast. Rushing out of the house, I saw the plunging plane minus the tail and people falling out onto the snowy ground,'' witness Gennady Chupakhin told the agency.

An official with Stavropol Airlines, the company that owned the plane, earlier said the crash could have been caused by a terrorist act, because the pilots had sent a danger signal to controllers just before the crash.