President Kaspar Villiger of Switzerland, who also heads the National Department (Ministry) of Finance, has decided not to attend the funeral ceremony in Bashkiria. The victims of a mid-air collision involving a Tupolev-154 jet-liner and a Boeing B-757 cargo plane will be buried in Bashkiria soon enough. Both aircraft collided July 2 over lake Boden See (Constance), southern Germany. The Swiss leader's decision was announced by the SDA-ATS national news agency, which quoted a statement by the Swiss Department of Finance.
The afore-said statement notes that the Russian Foreign Ministry has informed the Swiss Embassy in Moscow that Ufa authorities can't guarantee the Swiss delegation's safety at a time when local passions are running high because of the disaster and the death of many people.
As is known, the people of Russia are outraged in connection with the position of Swiss authorities, who didn't want to express their condolences to crash-victim relatives for quite a while. Moreover, the Swiss side voiced some false accusations, saying that the deceased Russian pilots were to blame for the disaster.
President Villiger intended to solidarize with the relatives of crash victims on his own behalf and on behalf of the people of Switzerland. The President regrets the fact that he can't personally express condolences on the part of Switzerland, the statement reads in part.
Many experts believe that Russia's Tu-154 passenger airliner, which belonged to the Bashkirian Airlines company and the B-757 cargo aircraft that served with the DHL international carrier, collided over lake Boden See in the early hours of July 2. 12 crew members and 57 passengers, i.e. 52 children and five adults, were flying aboard the Tu-154; the unfortunate passengers intended to spend their vacation in Spain. The B-757 was crewed by two pilots. All of them perished in the disaster.
The collision happened in the Sky Guide air-traffic control center's zone of responsibility; this center is located at Switzerland's Zurich-Kloten airport, which is one of Europe's largest.
Only one duty traffic controller was sitting at his work station in the Sky Guide air-traffic control center that night. Moreover, all the main phone equipment and automatic-warning systems (that inform crews about dangerously converging aircraft) had been switched off. Initial evidence prompts leading aviation experts to slam the Sky Guide duty operator's actions in that critical situation.
The operator has now been suspended, what with Swiss investigators instituting criminal proceedings against Sky Guide and its bosses.