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"Top News" Continued...

Issue: "Reaping the whirlwind," July 20, 2002

5

A sad story made worse

47 points | Airplane crashes often rate front-page attention, but a collision over southern Germany was especially heart-breaking. Of the 71 people killed in a crash of a Russian airliner and a DHL cargo jet on July 1, 45 were Russian children headed to an international festival in Barcelona. The kids were scheduled to fly two days earlier, but the group showed up at the wrong airport in Moscow, causing the trip's organizers to scramble for new arrangements. Within days, criticism focused on an air-traffic control center in Zurich, where only one controller was on duty while the collision warning system was undergoing maintenance. (Swiss regulations require two controllers, but one had taken a break and was unreachable.) The single controller warned the Russian plane of the danger, and while the pilot descended quickly, the DHL pilot also dived in avoidance, leading to a fiery collision at 35,000 feet.

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