back ¯-inform

Disaster at the airfield near the city of Lviv

Exclusive photos by Andriy Kyrchiv, witness of the disaster

Lviv tragedy probe not over -- Marchuk 20.08.2002

Chief of governmental investigation into the Lviv jet crash, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Yevhen Marchuk refutes media reports that the investigation has been completed.

Rumours about completion of the work of the commission are just groundless, Marchuk told Ukrainian ICTV Channel Monday.

According to him, the commission is presently engaged in decoding and scrutinising the information of the three flight recorders.

Marchuk also said the Defense Ministry should hold its own investigation, which is "a long expert and scientific process" that normally "brings no radical changes to the main version", but rather "connected with fates of the people and consequences of the catastrophe."

According to Marchuk, acts of pilots, flight chiefs, and top officials are subjects to different investigations. Also, acts of local authorities require special probe.

Earlier, one of the TV channels has reported, referring to an informed source, that the commissioned ended its investigation and gave preliminary conclusions that immediate causes of the tragedy were failures of the jet crew as to the flying technique during an unplanned aerobatic maneuver, and improper lend control over the pilots' acts and neglect of duty by flight chiefs Anatoliy Tretiakov and Yuriy Yatsiuk.


Su-27 pilots to be interrogated on resuscitation


Two pilots of Su- 27 plane that crashed near Lviv July 27, as a result of which 83 people died, Volodymyr Toponar and Yuriy Yehorov, will be interrogated as soon as they are discharged from the resuscitation department, according to Petro Melnyk, chief of the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces’ medical center. Ukraine’s air defense press secretary, Anatoliy Tobilko, told journalists today that because of the pilots’ critical health conditions, Melnyk allowed only their relatives and doctors to visit them.

The pilots are in the resuscitation department at the moment and will be discharged in three or four days, according to Tobilko.

According to Interfax-Ukraine, the General Prosecutor’s Office filed legal cases against the pilots for improper operation of the plane, which caused fatal consequences.

MP suggests setting up ad hoc commission for investigating aircraft disaster


MP Volodymyr Sivkovych, member of the parliamentary Committee on the National Security and Defense proposed setting up an ad hoc commission for investigating the Su- 27 plane crash that occurred Saturday in the vicinity of Lviv. “The tragedy July 27 at the aircraft show is dreadful evidence of the fact that the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the form that they now exist cannot guarantee the Ukrainian citizens security,” said Sivkovych. “We must do our utmost to punish the culprits to protect Ukraine and its citizens from such horror.”

“Ukrainian defense officials talk a lot about gradual reformation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to make them meet the European standards,” Sivkovych said. “But nothing has been done in this direction so far. The military field needs not only the reforms, but also drastic changes, including changing the military doctrine proper and the ideology that the Ukrainian army is based upon. The accident in Lviv is the last drop showing that our children and grandchildren’s future is under threat of technological disasters as a notorious heritage of the former Soviet military power and armament race,” said Sivkovych.

In this connection, Sivkovych suggested supporting the initiative of the Ukrainian president, who thinks that we should not so much reform the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but create a new structure of the Ukrainian army, close to the contemporary European armed forces, equipped with modern military machinery meeting the most up-to-date requirements.”

According to Sivkovych, the parliament should set up an interdepartmental commission for inspecting the state of the Ukrainian army, comprised of parliament deputies, representatives of the Cabinet of Ministers and the President Administration, independent experts and scientists to make a detailed account of the realistic state of the Ukrainian army within a short time.

Sivkovych said the parliament should also set up a commission for reorganizing the Ukrainian Armed Forces to design a new concept of the military doctrine and the military ideology in Ukraine by the end of the year and submit them to the Military Forces’ Commander and the Parliament.

The deputy proposed that the parliamentary committees should revise and complete the existing legislative base to reorganize the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Lviv mourning for plane crash victims


Because of the air crash at the military aerodrome “Sknyliv,” Lviv Mayor Liubomyr Buniak issued an ordinance “On Declaring July 30 through 31 Mourning Days in Lviv.” Buniak ordered to lower the Ukrainian flags, cancel all public entertainments and make certain changes to the local TV and radio programs.

We remind that Su-27 UB plane met with an air crash and fell down at Sknyliv airdrome in Lviv at 12.52 on July 27. As a result of the plane crash, 116 people, including 44 children, suffered severe bodily injuries, 83 people died, including 23 kids.

Lviv receives Hr10 million from budget, plane crash casualties Hr1 million


The charitable account opened for the casualties of Su-27 plane crash in Lviv already has Hr1 million 158 thousand. The city of Lviv received Hr10 million from the state budget to overcome the aftermath of the plane crash.

Chief of the Lviv oblast administration, Myron Yankiv, said that the oil processing complex Halychyna, Aval bank, Ukreximbank and Halka joint venture transferred the largest sums of money to this account. Yankiv said that Hr10 million allotted by the government will be distributed among the casualties’ families. Besides that this money will be spent on the burials and erecting monuments to the people who died in the disaster, providing medical services for the victims and other measures to overcome the consequences of the plane crash.

According to UKROP, 60 families have already received financial aid worth Hr2.0 thousand each from the regional budget. The regional governor said that a Spanish plane delivered 1,600 kg of humanitarian aid, mainly equipment and medicals, to Lviv on Monday.

Ad hoc commission to consider seven versions of Su-27 plane crash


Yevhen Marchuk, head of the state commission for investigating into the plane crash in Lviv, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council [the NSDC] said that the commission will consider at least seven versions to say whether the Su-27 equipment breakdown or the pilots’ mistake caused the crash. Among the possible causes Marchuk mentioned the engine breakdown, the control systems’ breakdown, faults in the fuel system, hydro-system and the cabin equipment.

According to experts, the engines were functioning until the plane hit the ground. “It is a highly important detail,” said Marchuk in an interview on Monday, adding that the commission is to clarify whether the engines were in full operation or not.

It is also known that before the aircraft fell down, its control systems and cabin appliances were in operation as well. Marchuk said that the flight recorders have already been found.

Asked about launching legal proceedings against high air defense commanders, including ex Air Defense Commander Viktor Strelnikov, Marchuk said that it was the General Prosecutor’s Office that decided on starting the proceedings, and the president and the defense minister decided on dismissing the officials. “These decisions were to a large extent made based on the primary information,” said Marchuk.

Marchuk said that Kyiv was not notified that a warplane was flying from Zhytomyr to show complex turns. “It is abnormal and will be corrected in the future,” said Marchuk. “It is not the way it should be, to leave alone the fact that the organizers did not coordinate this event, implying the use of military machinery, with the local authorities,” Interfax-Ukraine reported.

“It is clear that the pilots made a mistake,” said Marchuk, “but why? This is what the specialists will have to clarify.” He said that we cannot draw conclusions based on the primary estimations because “the causes of the crash might have been of a different nature, which the pilots do not comprehend.” He stressed that the commission should look into all the technical aspects of the flight.

On Monday, the specialists finished gathering the fragments of Su-27 plane, which fell down at the airdrome “Sknyliv” at 12.52 on Saturday, to put them together and conduct the investigation in a hangar.

“Now it is clear that the disaster could have been avoided,” said Marchuk.

Ukrainian fighter jet crashes at air show, killing at least 78 spectators

The Associated Press

LVIV, July 29 - An Su-27 fighter jet clipped the ground and sheared through a crowd of spectators Saturday at an air show in western Ukraine before exploding in a ball of fire, killing at least 78 people and injuring 138 in one of the world's deadliest air show accidents.

The two crew ejected and survived, the Defense Ministry said, just after the aircraft first grazed the ground and slid backward on its wingtip and nose through hundreds of spectators who had been watching on a clear day at the Sknyliv air base in the city of Lviv.

Bohdan Hupalo, 18, said he was posing for a picture when the plane came down. He dove to the ground and saw the jet race over him, missing by only a few meters (yards). "There weren't any survivors among those who fell down late - they were cut down like grass," he said. When Hupalo opened his eyes, he said he was surrounded by human remains. "I will never forget this tragedy," he said from his hospital bed, where he was being treated for an injured back.

After the crash, parents frantically searched for missing children and used the public address system to call out their names. One group of children with cuts on their faces and arms sat stunned on the ground. Severed body parts littered the tarmac at the air base. One woman was seen clutching the lifeless body of a child in front of a jet on display; another man was covered in blood while he examined the stump left of his right hand.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said 138 people had been treated at hospitals in Lviv, and 24 who were lightly injured had been released. The death toll could still rise because many of the injured were in critical condition, the ministry said.

The two crew suffered back injuries, medical officials told Interfax news agency, but they were seen walking away from the crash scene without assistance. The plane was in the sky for about two minutes and had been performing advanced aerobatic maneuvers, but just before it hit the ground it went silent and banked left - its wingtip shearing trees and touching another plane on the ground. Video of the crash showed the jet then sliding backward along the ground on its left wingtip and nose before it began cartwheeling and then exploded, throwing off flaming debris.

The Defense Ministry's western operational command said engine failure was the preliminary reason for the crash, but ministry headquarters in the capital Kyiv declined to comment on the cause and refused to confirm an engine malfunction.

President Leonid Kuchma, who cut short his vacation in Crimea to rush to the accident scene, implied that a technical fault could have been to blame, saying after his arrival in Lviv that "this equipment has already functioned to its technological capacity." Much of the country's air force arsenal is left over from the Soviet era and in poor condition. "We don't know anything absolutely except that the pilots were the most experienced, of the highest class," Kuchma said in comments shown on state television.

Ukrainian officials are especially sensitive about military accidents after last October when an errant missile fired from a Ukrainian military base shot down a Russian plane, killing all 78 people on board, most of them immigrants to Israel.

Kuchma ordered the secretary of the Defense and Security Council, Yevhen Marchuk, to head for Lviv and lead the government commission investigating the case - which had already begun questioning the jet's crew, along with other witnesses and watching video of the crash. Prosecutors also started an investigation. Later Saturday, Kuchma fired the commander of the air force as well as the top officer from the 14th Air Corps to which the jet belonged.

About 1,500 people were watching the free air show, the first day of the 14th such event held in the city. Thousands more had been expected Sunday for the main day of the show that marked the 60th anniversary of the local air force unit.

Kuchma said the country would consider a ban on air shows because of the accident. "People should deal with their concrete military activity," he said in comments shown on state television. "No such shows should take place."

Lt. Col. Oleksiy Melnyk, a pilot in Ukraine's air force, blamed air show organizers for allowing the maneuvers so close to the spectators - telling Interfax that regulations require they take place 300 meters (yards) away. The regional governor of Lviv, Liubomyr Buniak, announced two days of mourning starting Sunday. Yaroslav Vaida, a rescue service employee, lost his 24-year-old son and was himself severely injured in the spine. "I don't want to live, I have no sense to live," he said in the hospital. "I can hardly speak, but have to say this."

At one Lviv hospital, handwriting on the wall noted the 33 people who had been treated there - ranging in age from 2 to 62. Of those patients, 11 had died. More than dlrs 1.9 million will be set aside from the federal budget in an initial fund for funerals and first aid for victims, Kuchma said. "We will make sure that every family receives help," he said.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to Kuchma, the presidential press office said.

The Sukhoi Su-27 has been in service since 1985, and has the NATO code name "Flanker." Its speed and maneuverability made it one of the key planes in the former Soviet air force, and it resembles the U.S. F-15 Eagle fighter with two rear stabilizers and twin engines. A Sukhoi Su- 30 jet - a similar twin-engine design to the Su-27 - crashed at start of the Paris air show in 1999, but the two pilots ejected and no one was injured.

One of the world's most deadly previous air show crashes was at a U.S. air base in Germany in 1988, when Italian jets performing a complicated maneuver collided and spiraled into the crowd, killing 70 and injuring at least 400.

In September 2000, another Su-27 crashed during maneuvers close to Zhytomyr, western Ukraine, killing only the pilot. The Su-27 is produced in different configurations, with either one or two crew. In the most recent other military plane accident in Ukraine, a pilot was killed in the April crash of a Su-25 jet in Zaporizhzhia that happened after the plane had been under repair.

Mourning ceremony held for 83 victims of Ukrainian air show crash

The Associated Press

LVIV, July 29 - The bright sun lighting their grim faces, hundreds of family members and survivors gathered Monday for a memorial ceremony on the charred Ukrainian airstrip where a military jet plowed into air show spectators, killing at least 83.

As investigators sought to determine who was to blame, Ukraine's air force commander and a top officer had been detained, the Su-27's two pilots were under investigation and the country's defense minister had submitted his resignation. Two main causes were being considered - pilot carelessness or mechanical failure of the 15-year-old plane.

All of Ukraine, a France-sized former Soviet republic of 50 million people, held a day of mourning Monday for the victims of Saturday's crash, the world's deadliest air show accident.

Officials at the mayor's office in the western city of Lviv said a total of 83 people had been killed, including 23 children, and 199 people were injured. Forensic experts were still identifying remains Monday, and the first funerals were scheduled for Tuesday.

Relatives of the dead and spectators who survived the disaster, clutching carnations and handkerchiefs, streamed Monday into the Sknyliv air base for a brief memorial ceremony led by Ukrainian Orthodox clerics singing songs and reading prayers. One woman held a candle.

Flowers were strewn around the singed turf where the fighter jet exploded in a huge ball of fire. The site was cordoned off by security officials. The jet had been performing a risky maneuver at low altitude when it nicked the ground, sliced off the nose of a plane on the ground and roared through a crowd of hundreds of spectators. The pilots catapulted and survived.

"The plane started killing people as it was coming in," said Ivan Kravchenko, who saw the crash from about 50 meters (yards) away. "I thought, 'It's flying too low over people. This is not a good stunt."' He said his grandson, 4-year-old Vitaly, asked him later, "Grandpa, is that what's supposed to happen?"

Raisa Volodymyrova was standing next to the Il-76MD that was clipped by the Su-27. "There were piles and piles of people around me. There was a body of a child lying on me," she recalled tearfully at Monday's ceremony.

The accident was the latest blow for Ukraine's cash-starved military. Defense Minister Volodymyr Shkidchenko tendered his resignation Sunday, which was being considered by President Leonid Kuchma. Shkidchenko's predecessor was fired after a Ukrainian missile accidentally downed a Russian passenger jet over the Black Sea.

Air Force Commander Gen. Col. Volodymyr Strelnykov and Lt. Col. S. Opyshchak were fired by Kuchma and detained on suspicion of "negligent attitude to military service that led to grave consequences," the Prosecutor General's Office said. Kuchma also fired the chief of the general staff.

A court will decide whether to arrest the two pilots after they recover from their injuries, prosecutors said. Russian officials and media said pilot error was likely to blame, and criticized Ukraine for failing to maintain its Soviet-era aircraft and properly train pilots - criticisms that also have been leveled at Russia's post-Soviet military. "In Ukraine, as in Russia, flights are conducted irregularly, the equipment gets stale and often the human factor can bring about a tragedy," Russian test pilot Anatoly Kvochur was quoted by the Kommersant newspaper as saying.