Russian air crash

I heard about this on the radio going to work yesterday: Double air disaster hits Russia.

Two Russian airliners carrying 89 passengers and crew have crashed within minutes of each other after flying out of the same Moscow airport.  Witnesses at one scene said they heard a plane roaring overhead followed by "an explosion like thunder."  Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the state security services, the FSB, to launch an investigation.  An FSB spokesman said searches had revealed no signs of terrorism but sabotage had not been ruled out.  There was speculation Chechen rebels were behind the attack, ahead of presidential elections in the republic on Sunday - but this has been denied by rebel leaders.  A spokesman from Moscow's Domodedovo airport said no foreigners were on either passenger list.

Three things bugged me about the radio report.  One was the automatic assumption that this was terrorism.  It does look suspicious, but it seemed a little early to say that it was definitely terrorists.  It could be a simple problem like a bad batch of fuel, which would have affected both planes as they left from the same place.  These are fairly small planes, not the big passenger airliners of Sept 11th 2001.  It seems both planes crashed in fields or wasteland, not populated areas.  This quote is worth bearing in mind:

Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Incompetence could never explain Sept 11th 2001.  It is a possibility in Russia.  Later news reports have mentioned there may have been an issue with the maintenance schedules for the planes.

Another assumption on the radio report was that this was an attack directed against America.  It happened in Russia!  How does this affect America?  There are other world concerns, Chechnya's having elections soon.  The last thing that bugged me was that they said Russia was the only other country in the world, besides America, "worth attacking."  Hmm, let me think of a few countries whose loss or disruption would affect other countries, perchance Britain, or maybe Canada, how about Mexico, or Brazil, Australia, China, Japan, India, Pakistan, how many more do I have to list?  Come on radio people, get a little perspective and stop being so parochial!

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