Medvedev slams string of accidents, demands probe

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President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday slammed Russia's poor air safety record and demanded a thorough probe into a crash that killed 43 people, including members of a top hockey team.

Medvedev spoke to officials including Transport Minister Igor Levitin and Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu, holding the meeting at the crash site in the village of Tunoshna just outside the city of Yaroslavl, some 300 kilometers (185 miles) northeast of Moscow.

"I've given an order to the Investigative Committee and the government to conduct a thorough investigation," Medvedev, sporting a black suit, told officials in a quiet but firm voice after he placed flowers at the crash site.

"The situation remains unfortunate, and a string of air crashes which happened this summer shows that. We cannot go on like that."

"We need to create modern companies that will cover all of Russia," he told officials, adding that if the country could not produce reliable aircraft it would have to buy foreign-made planes.

The latest disaster left two survivors including a Russian hockey player in critical condition and comes on the heels of a summer full of deadly transport accidents.

Two accidents involving Tu-134 and An-24 jets killed more than 50 people and prompted Medvedev to call for that type of the aircraft to be retired in the coming months.

That move was followed by a series of smaller air accidents as well as a Volga River boat sinking that killed 122 people out on a pleasure cruise.

© 2011 AFP

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