Investigators examined flight recorders Thursday from Russia's mystery double air crash in which 89 people died, but one official doubted they would be of any use. "The tapes... did not show anything. Practically speaking they switched themselves off immediately. And so we failed to get any information," Vladimir Yakovlev, Russian President Vladimir Putin's envoy for the southern region, told ORT television. Russian media focused on suspicion that the planes had been attacked within minutes of each other Tuesday night, despite official statements that the crashes were most likely the result of technical fault or human error, informs Reuters. According to ABCNEWS, just a day after officials stressed there were many possibilities besides terrorism, presidential envoy Vladimir Yakovlev told Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency that the main theory "all the same remains terrorism." He said the planes' flight recorders had not provided any clues to the disaster. Additionally, Transport Minister Igor Levitin confirmed Sibir airlines' report that its crew activated an emergency signal shortly before the plane disappeared from radar screens. Visiting the site of the crash, he said, however, that details were slim because "no verbal confirmation from the crew was received" saying what the problem was. Officials previously said there was no indication of trouble from a Volga-Aviaexpress airliner that also crashed late Tuesday, although people on the ground reported hearing a series of explosions. Russian media also raised questions about a possible link between the crashes and an explosion a few hours earlier at a bus stop on a road leading to Domodedovo airport, where the two doomed planes took off. Without citing any evidence, the reports suggested the blast, which wounded four people, might have been an effort to distract attention. The suspicion of terrorism came after earlier warnings from officials that separatists might try to carry out attacks before an election this Sunday in Chechnya to replace the war-torn region's assassinated pro-Kremlin president. The rebels have made attacks in Moscow and other cities, hijacked planes outside Russia and allegedly staged suicide bombings. The Statesman reports that the recorders extracted from the wreckage of two planes that crashed nearly simultaneously have not revealed reliable information on the disasters’ causes, a top Russian official was quoted as saying today. Mr Vladimir Yakovlev, the Russian President’s envoy for the southern region, where one of the planes crashed, also said that the main theory about the catastrophe “all the same remains terrorism”, the ITAR-Tass news agency said. Mr Yakovlev later said on First Channel TV that the recorders “turned off immediately ... this is probably the main affirmation that something happened very fast”. Officials have said that several possibilities were being investigated as the cause of the crashes that killed 89 people late yesterday, including inferior fuel and human error and that they believed the planes’ “black box” recorders would clarify the situation. However, Mr Yakovlev said that the recorders “had gone out of service already before the fall of the airliners”. The apparent failure of the recorders to provide significant information could increase what appears to be rising suspicion among Russians that the crashes were terrorist acts. Also today, a government commission appointed to probe the mishaps travelled to one of the crash sites, about 200 km south of Moscow. “There is still no clear-cut concept of what occurred, because the procedure of deciphering the data recorders will be conducted more than once,” transport minister Mr Igor Levitin, who heads the commission, said.
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