Navigator in Russian plane crash was drunk: official

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The navigator of a Russian plane that crashed onto a highway in the northwestern region of Karelia in June, killing 47 people, was drunk, an official report said Monday.

The navigator "was in a light state of alcoholic intoxication" with a blood alcohol level of 0.81, as the crew attempted to land the plane in bad weather, the Interstate Aviation Committee said in a report posted on its website.

The RusAir Tu-134 was trying to land at its destination of Petrozavodsk in the Karelia region near Finland in bad weather but failed to make the runway and instead hurtled onto a nearby highway.

The report said that the experienced navigator was "excessively active", with black boxes showing that he several times told the chief pilot to speed up the landing.

It said the navigator's behaviour was a contributing factor in the crash, but found that the main cause was the decision to attempt the landing in bad weather with poor visibility.

Forty-four people died at the scene, while three died later in hospital. Among the dead were one citizen of the Netherlands, a Swede and two Ukrainians. Five people survived the crash.

The report's findings come as an investigation continues into the crash of a plane carrying a top ice hockey team earlier this month, the latest in a string of air disasters in Russia, where many smaller airlines use outdated Soviet-era planes.

© 2011 AFP

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