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Soviet Air Crew Blamed in Crash That Killed African Leader

July 10, 1987|Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A Soviet flight crew that ignored an alarm and descended in darkness caused the crash that killed Mozambican President Samora Machel and 34 others, a board of inquiry said Thursday.

The report contradicted claims by Marxist-ruled Mozambique and Soviet aviation officials that the Oct. 19 crash was engineered by South Africa.

"The decision to go on descending when they didn't know where they were is unforgivable," said South African Supreme Court Justice Cecil Margo, who headed the international commission that also included former U.S. astronaut Frank Borman.

There was no immediate official comment from the Mozambican government.

The Soviets, Mozambicans and leaders of neighboring nations have charged that the South African government, in effect, assassinated Machel by luring the plane off course with a false radio beacon. South Africa has denied the charge.

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