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Russia Blames Polish Pilot Error For Smolensk Crash.

Russia has blamed the Smolensk air crash which killed the Polish president and nearly 100 other people in April on Polish pilot error.

The Polish crew failed to heed bad weather warnings because they were afraid of displeasing President Lech Kaczynski, Russian investigators said.

The presence of Poland’s air force commander in the cockpit drove them to take “unjustified risk”, they said.

Poland’s prime minister has cut short a holiday in response to the report.

A government spokesman said Donald Tusk was returning to Poland for talks with Poland’s lead crash investigator, Jerzy Miller.

Last month, Mr Tusk sharply criticised a draft version of the Russian report.

Russia’s handling of the disaster had previously been widely commended.

President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, spanning the country’s military and political elite, were killed when their airliner came down in heavy fog near the western Russian city of Smolensk. There were no survivors.

They had been on their way to a memorial ceremony for Poles massacred by Stalin’s secret police at Katyn during World War II.

Tatyana Anodina, head of the Inter-state Aviation Committee (Mak) in Moscow, told reporters that the final report had been handed to Polish colleagues.

The Soviet-made Tu-154 plane, she said, had been in good condition when it took off from Warsaw en route to Smolensk’s Severny airport, and it suffered no engine or flight system failures.

The jet was piloted by Captain Arkadiusz Protasiuk (left) and Major Robert Grzywna

Before impact, there was no fire, explosion or other damage in the air, she continued.

The disaster resulted directly, she said, from the crew’s failure to heed weather warnings and land at a different airport.

“During the flight, the crew were repeatedly informed of inadequate weather conditions at the destination airport,” she said.

“Despite this, the crew of the Tu-154 did not take a decision to switch to a back-up airfield. This may be considered as the start of the extreme situation aboard the plane.”

The Russian investigation found “substantial deficiencies” in the training given to Captain Arkadiusz Protasiuk and his co-pilot, Major Robert Grzywna, Ms Anodina said.

The two men had feared a “negative reaction” from President Kaczynski if they switched to the other airfield, according to the Russian investigator.

“The main passenger’s expected negative reaction… placed psychological pressure on crew members and influenced the decision to continue the landing,” she said.

The jet’s flight recorder caught one of the crew saying “He’ll get mad”, in an apparent reference to the Polish president’s determination not to alter his schedule.

Poland’s air force commander, Gen Andrzej Blasik, added to the pressure by entering the flight deck, Ms Anodina noted.

“The presence of the Polish air force commander on the flight deck up to the aircraft’s impact with the ground put psychological pressure on the crew captain to decide on continuing descent in a situation of unjustified risk, dominated by the goal of making a landing at any cost,” she said.

According to pathology tests, alcohol was found in the blood of Gen Blasik in a concentration of 0.6 grams per litre – just above the drink-driving limit for most EU states.

Investigators found that a top Polish foreign ministry official, Mariusz Kazana, had also entered the flight deck at one point.

At the news conference in Moscow, they played back the flight recorder tape of the pilots’ final minutes, including conversations with Russian air traffic controllers.

Just before the recording ends, an automatic recorded message in English from the plane’s Terrain Awareness and Warning System can be heard exhorting the crew to “pull up, pull up”.

In December, Mr Tusk described a draft of the Russian report as “unacceptable”, saying some of its conclusions were unfounded.

Without revealing details, he said it did not comply fully with the Chicago Convention which regulates international air travel.

“This negligence and mistakes, or lack of positive reaction to what Poland has been asking for, all these things allow us to say that some of the report’s conclusions are without foundation,” he added.

On Wednesday, Mak official Alexei Morozov said his investigation had amended its report with regard to technical criticisms made by Polish investigators.

But other amendments suggested by the Poles relating to responsibility for the crash were not included in the report as they were non-technical, Mr Morozov said.

These amendments would, he added, be contained in an appendix to the report.

Lech Kaczynski’s twin brother, former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, recently said he doubted that the body entombed in a Polish cathedral last year was that of his brother.

“When I saw the body that was brought back in a coffin to Poland, that person did not look like my brother,” he told reporters last month.

BBC Full Report

January 12, 2011 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Poland criticises Russian ‘Smolensk Report’

Polish PM Donald Tusk has criticised an investigation by Russia into a deadly plane crash which killed the country’s president in April.

He said it was “unacceptable” and some conclusions “without foundation”.

Russia recently handed Poland a draft report of the incident after months of investigation, though it has not been made public.

Former President Lech Kaczynski and other senior officials were among 96 people killed in the crash.

The plane came down near the western Russian town of Smolensk.

‘Without foundation’

Without revealing details of the report, Mr Tusk said it did not comply fully with the Chicago Convention which regulates international air travel.

“From the Polish point of view, the draft report from the Russian side as it has been sent is without question unacceptable,” he said in televised comments to reporters in Brussels.

“This negligence and mistakes or lack of positive reaction to what Poland has been asking for, all these things allow us to say that some of the report’s conclusions are without foundation,” he added.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Poland last week and reiterated a promise to cooperate over the crash investigation.

Poland’s first couple – along with other leading political and military figures – were on their way to a memorial ceremony for the World War II Katyn massacre when their plane crashed in poor weather on 10 April.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was praised for his sensitive handling of the situation in the aftermath of the crash, which killed all those on board.

KRAKOW TOURS

 

December 17, 2010 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Horrors discovered as flood water recedes.

Damaged farms, ruined fields, trash, rotting corpses and carcasses are emerging from under water as flood is gradually subsiding in the south of Poland.

The financial losses caused by flood are hard to estimate, says the government’s crisis centre. Many roads throughout the country are still impassable and power lines still down. The death toll, which so far has reached fifteen, is still on the rise as new dead bodies are being discovered. Today, the corpse of a young girl was found in Mlynowka River in the southern region of Podbeskidzie.

Water is slowly subsiding in the region but still 150 ha are under water. In Czechowice-Dziedzice, prisoners from a correctional facility in Jastrzebie Zdroj are pumping out water from the flooded area and a rescue team is providing owners of the flooded houses with food.

In Podkarpackie region the Vistula River still exceeds the emergency level and flood alerts are still valid in several villages and the town of Tarnobrzeg, one of the towns hardest hit by flood water. Over 70 rescue workers from Ukraine are pumping out the flood water from basements, drainage ditches and fields using 12 highly efficient water pumps.

Soldiers from chemical units are preparing to disinfect flood-affected areas, from which water has already withdrawn. Inhabitants of these areas are being vaccinated against tetanus. Although the flood situation in the south of Poland is stable, it may soon deteriorate again, warns forecasts, as heavy rains and thunderstorms are expected there today.

In the Mazovia region, central Poland, water is also subsiding but sanitary services warn of epidemics as water in adjacent wells and water pipes is contaminated. In the flood-stricken areas many buildings are in danger of collapsing and will have to be demolished. Teams consisting of doctors, vets and building inspectors are visiting households to check if people are fine and houses safe enough to dwell.

After the great wave, the level of water in the Vistula River in Warsaw is going down. “It’s getting better. We are monitoring embankments every 30 minutes and so far they haven’t soaked or damaged,” Arthur Lauda from Warsaw Fire Services said. Firemen are cutting out trees on embankments in Port Czerniakowski because their weight may breach the construction.

May 27, 2010 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

   

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