Fourth Try to Land Plane in Fog Kills Polish President

State College, Pa. — 10 April 2010 — reports weather likely played a significant role in the plane crash that killed Poland’s president Lech Kaczynski on Saturday morning. meteorologists studied the weather closely at the time of the crash in Smolensk, Russia, and indications show that very dense fog was present before the plane went down.

The observations show that 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 crash. But skies were clear above that for the plane’s decent.

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

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 killed in the plane crash. 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. ) 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.

By’s Katie Storbeck and Dave Samuhel.

Updated 04-10-2010

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