Black Sea crash: 'No evidence of terrorism'

US officials say there is no evidence a terrorist act caused a Russian jet to explode in mid-air and crash into the Black Sea.

US officials say there is no evidence a terrorist act caused a Russian jet to explode in mid-air and crash into the Black Sea.

They say a missile fired during Ukrainian military exercises apparently downed the plane.

Ukrainian officials deny this.

Thirteen bodies have so far been recovered.

The airliner, carrying at least 76 people from Israel, plunged into the sea raising fears of a terrorist attack.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says terrorists may have caused the crash and he had no reason to doubt a Ukrainian denial stressing that missiles used in the exercise did not have the range to reach the airliner.

But a senior US administration official says there is no evidence of terrorism and that the Ukrainian military exercise probably led to the crash.

The chartered Tupolev 154 went down 114 miles off the Russian coastal city of Adler. The Sibir Airlines plane was on its way from Tel Aviv to the Siberian city of Novosibirsk.

An Armenian airline pilot flying nearby witnessed the explosion and crash.

A Defence Department official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, says a long-range anti-aircraft missile, believed to be an S-200, appeared to have hit the plane after being launched from the Crimean region of Ukraine.

When Pentagon officials first were told a missile felled the plane, the weapon cited did not have the range needed to reach the aircraft. Later in the day, the Pentagon was informed a much larger weapon was involved; that, along with fresh intelligence information, virtually erased US suspicions of terrorism.

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