Two explosions caused Smolensk air crash, claims film
Explosions in the fuselage and wing of an official aircraft carrying the Polish president and dozens of senior political and military figures caused it to crash, according to a film on the work of an investigative committee into the accident, broadcast on Saturday.
The TU154M crashed as it approached Smolensk airport in western Russia, on April 10, 2010. The tragedy killed all 96 on board including then President Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria.
An official report into the disaster attributed the cause of the crash to a number of factors such as the weather and pilot error.
But Jarosław Kaczyński, the twin brother of the late president, and his political allies have long maintained that an explosion downed the aircraft.
Once in government, Law and Justice, the party founded by the Kaczyński brothers, initiated an investigation headed by Antoni Macierewicz, a former defence minister and loyal Kaczyński ally.
On Saturday morning a 40-minute film based on the final report by the Macierewicz committee was shown on the private TV station Telewizja Republika.
Last week, Macierewicz announced that the report was ready and will be published soon.
"The committee is in no doubt that the tragedy was caused by a number of deliberate actions, in the field of the TU154M aircraft's overhaul, the way the official government delegation to Katyn was prepared, the deliberately false directions by Russian (air traffic) controllers of the plane to land 1,000 metres before the airport, as well as faults and explosions that finally destroyed the Tupolev and led to the deaths of the Polish president and the whole government delegation, flying to ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the genocide at Katyn in 1940," the film states.
The film claims that research had shown that the theses of the official report by Russian investigators has no scientific explanation.
"Russian flight controllers led the aeroplane so that the TU154M was in danger of hitting the ground one kilometre before the airport," the film alleges. "The most experienced commanders, navigators and pilots were entrusted with this task.
"The TU154 was not sent to an alternative airfield," the film adds. "Russian navigators gave the pilots false information from the start as to: airfield traffic patterns, glide path, successive distances from the runway and weather conditions. The TU154M's landing was agreed to although the weather was against it.”
According to the film, the tragedy occurred at least 100 metres before the birch tree, which the original investigation states was hit by the aircraft’s wing.
It claims that an explosion caused the aircraft to become unstable and lose lift. It also says that "characteristic post-blast curls were visible on the severed parts of the wings, and the shape of the destruction indicates the post-explosive nature of the damage.
"The explosion blew up the left wing of the plane severing its tip, and then the slots and wing flap were destroyed, which ultimately made it impossible to compensate for the loss of lift and resulted in the plane turning on the left wing," the film states.
According to the investigative committee, the explosion in the wing led to a "hopeless situation and the tragedy was completed by a total power failure 15.7 metres above the ground.
"That was the result of a second explosion, this time in the centre wing near the generals' lounge," the film says. "It was this blast that killed the passengers in the cabin, hurling their remains to a distance of nearly 100 metres.”
The film also claims that evidence of the high explosive hexogen was found on the wreckage, stating that "all doubts as to the technical cause of the Smolensk tragedy were eliminated" following tests on wreckage samples conducted by a NATO ally, which revealed traces of soot but also of hexogen.
The investigative committee said a detailed analysis of the spread of victims' remains also helped establish the course of events.
Antoni Macierewicz told PAP the final report will probably be adopted by a vote of committee members later in April, adding that in his view the key evidence in the case is explosive materials found on the plane's wreckage.