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Pilots of Polish President's Plane Warned They were Flying Too Law, but Ignored Alerts

The pilots of a jet which crashed in Russia killing Polish president Lech Kaczynski and 95 others repeatedly ignored automatic alerts they were flying too low, a Polish investigator said Wednesday.

Investigator Edmund Klich told Poland's Rzeczpospolita daily that the crew "failed to react to automatic signals: the warning 'terrain ahead' or 'pull up'. These were ignored."

"When the pilots were at 100 meters altitude, they should have begun to pull up the plane, not assume that they would succeed in landing," said Klich, who has heard the black box recordings of cockpit conversations recovered from the crash site.

The president's Tupolev Tu-154 crashed on April 10 at Smolensk in western Russia while trying to land in thick fog. The passengers were heading to a memorial for Polish officers slaughtered in World War II.

On Tuesday, Klich confirmed that Poland's air force chief was in the cockpit when the jet crashed, but said there was nothing on the flight recorders suggesting General Andrzej Blasik had pressured pilots to land.

Klich did, however, suggest that Blasik's very presence in the cockpit could have caused some pressure.

"Isn't it stressful when you're writing on your computer and someone is watching over your shoulder? It stresses me out," Klich told Rzeczpospolita.

A second unidentified person also entered the cockpit about ten minutes before the catastrophe to find out about possible delays, but left before the crash, Klich said.

The jet was carrying Kaczynski, the NATO state's four top military officers including Blasik and dozens of other dignitaries.

Kaczynski's twin brother Jaroslaw is running in snap presidential elections on June 20.(AFP)


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