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    Plane Crash Kills Polish President: Weather the Likely Culprit

    By By AccuWeather.com's Katie Storbeck and Dave Samuhel.
    April 14, 2010, 8:11:01 AM EDT

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    Weather likely played a significant role in the plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski Saturday morning. AccuWeather.com meteorologists studied the weather at the time of the crash in Smolensk, Russia, and indications show that dense fog was present before the plane went down.

    According to observations, fog became very dense an hour before the crash. The visibility at ground level was only a couple hundred yards at the time of the incident. However, skies were clear above that for the plane's descent.

    Winds were light and do not appear to have been a factor.

    According to the news agency Interfax, the Smolensk Airport was closed due to the thick fog and poor visibility before the crash. The pilot was instructed to land at either Minsk to the west or Moscow to the east. The plane crashed after the pilot's fourth attempt to land at the closed airport.


    Nearly 100 people were reportedly killed. In addition to the president, some of Poland's highest military and civilian leaders died. The crash occurred at 11 a.m. local time (3 a.m. EDT) in western Russia. The president's wife was also killed.

    According to the Associated Press, the Tupolev-154, a Soviet-era plane, appeared to hit trees and break apart before approaching the runway.

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