1. Various of Sibir Airlines planes (not the plane involved in the crash) on tarmac
Moscow - March 2001
2. Tupolev 154 on runway
3. People boarding plane
Siberia - 18 December 1995
4. Pan from two rescue workers on top of wooded hill
5. Various of wreckage of Tupolev 154 airliner
6. Low angle shot of group of rescue workers standing on hill
Burdakovka, 30km southeast of Irkutsk - July 4 2001
7. Tail of Tupolev 154 plane
8. Various wreckage of plane
Moscow - 4 July 2001
9. Set-up shot Paul Duffy, aviation expert
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Paul Duffy, aviation expert
"The Tupolev 154 first came into service in 1972. There have been 923 of them built at that time and there have been 28 accidents. This is the third accident (The 4th of July crash) which seems to involve the aviation technology."
A Russian chartered airliner heading from Tel Aviv to Siberia exploded in flight on Thursday and crashed off the Black Sea coast with at least 77 people on board, and President Vladimir Putin said that terrorism could be the cause.
"A civilian aircraft crashed today and it is possible that it is the result of a terrorist act," Putin told a meeting of visiting European justice ministers.
Deputy Transport Minister Karl Ruppel told The Associated Press that a crew of an Armenian An-24 airliner in the area had informed Russian air traffic controllers in Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia that they saw an explosion aboard a plane flying nearby.
The Armenian plane was flying on a regularly scheduled flight over the Black Sea from the Ukrainian Crimean city of Simferopol to the Armenian capital Yerevan.
Ruppel could not immediately say what the cause of the explosion was.
He was confirming Russian media reports that a blast had occurred on the Russian plane.
The plane, a Tupolev 154, went down in pieces 180 kilometers (114 miles) off the Russian coastal city of Adler, located on the Georgian border, said Vasily Yurchuk, a spokesman for the Ministry of Emergency Situations.
The plane was on its way from Tel Aviv to the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, Yurchuk said.
It belonged to Sibir Airlines, which is based in Novosibirsk, about 2,800 kilometers (1,750 miles) east of Moscow, and had been chartered, Sibir officials said.
The Emergency Situations Ministry said there were at least 66 passengers and 11 crew members aboard.
Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia's Federal Security Service, told Putin in a televised meeting that Russian officials had first learned of the crash from Armenian officials.
He said planes and ships had been sent to the area of the crash within 15 minutes.
"We must launch rescue work, gather all we can and conduct expertise. If the sea depth allows that, we must try to recover the black box," Putin said.
Garik Ovanisian, the pilot of the Armenian An-24, said his plane was at 6,300 meters (20,790 feet) above the Black Sea when the plane above his exploded.
"I saw the explosion on the plane, which was above me at an altitude of 11,000 meters (36,300 feet)," Ovanisian said. "The plane fell into the sea, and there was another explosion in the sea. After that I saw a big white spot on the sea and I had the impression that oil was burning."
Ivan Teterian, chief of the local Ministry of Emergency Situations branch in southern Russia, said "we cannot exclude a terrorist attack," speaking live on Russia's NTV television.
He added that only a further investigation could confirm it.
Bush administration officials quickly contacted their counterparts in Moscow in an attempt to determine whether there was a connection between the explosion and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks or U.S. plans to retaliate.
Putin, who has taken a high-profile position in the international anti-terrorist coalition that has formed following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, was immediately informed of the crash, the chief presidential press spokesman said.
Putin called the head of the Federal Security Service and the defense minister to the Kremlin.
He named Vladimir Rushailo, head of the presidential Security Council, to head the investigation.
Israeli Transport Minister Ephraim Sneh said there was no clear evidence yet that the plane crashed as the result of a terror attack.
After the crash, Israel suspended takeoffs of foreign flights from its main airport, Ben Gurion International near Tel Aviv.