First Funerals Held for Russian Victims of Plane Crash

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The first funerals were held Saturday for Russians killed when a passenger jet crashed in Ukraine after encountering rough weather, killing all 170 people registered aboard.

Meanwhile, the identified remains of 36 victims were being returned to St. Petersburg, Russia, where most of the passengers lived, aboard a cargo plane flight from Ukraine's Donetsk region, Russian Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova said. More than 30 bodies had been returned to St. Petersburg for burial a day earlier.

In the Russian Black Sea resort city of Anapa, where the Pulkovo Airlines Tu-154 had taken off on a flight to St. Petersburg, friends and loved ones buried Natalya Kuznetsova. State-run Rossiya television said the St. Petersburg resident had grown up in Anapa and was vacationing with her husband and son before flying back home alone to return to work while they continued their holiday.

CountryWatch: Russia

At a village in the Krasnodar region, where Anapa is located, a funeral was held for a 19-year-old man who had been returning to St. Petersburg to start his second year at a university, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

Dozens of relatives who had traveled to Ukraine to identify their loved ones were returning to Russia on Saturday, authorities said.

The plane slammed into a field north of Donetsk after its crew sent distress signals as a storm raged in the area.

Ukraine's Emergency Ministry said that while emergency workers were loading fragments of the shattered plane to clear the site, they found two bodies including one of a small child.

The crash was the third major air disaster involving a Russian airline or airport this year. An Airbus A-310 of the Russian airline S7 skidded off a runway and burst into flames on July 9 in the Siberian city of Irkutsk, killing 124 people, and an A-320 of the Armenian airline Armenia crashed into the Black Sea while trying to land in the Russian resort city of Sochi in rough weather in May, killing all 113 people aboard.