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Russian military plane crashes in Pacific, 11 missing

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian military plane with 11 people on board crashed in the Pacific Ocean during a training flight late on Friday, the Defense Ministry said.

It said in a statement a search was under way for the crew of the Tu-142 aircraft. But RIA news agency quoted a military source as saying there was little chance of finding survivors.

The anti-submarine aircraft disappeared from radar screens while flying over the Tatar Strait separating the Russian mainland from the island of Sakhalin, the ministry said on its website, www.mil.ru.

Russia has one of the world's worst air safety records, with elderly Soviet-era planes and dated airport facilities.

The Vesti television channel showed pictures of debris including broken seats close to the crash site.

Interfax news agency cited an unidentified source close to the commission investigating the crash as saying the most likely cause was a mechanical fault.

Eleven people died when a cargo aircraft crashed this month in the eastern Russian region of Yakutia.

Last year, all 88 passengers and crew aboard an Aeroflot-Nord Boeing aircraft died when the plane crashed near the Ural mountains. Russian investigators said poor training was the primary cause of the crash.

In 2006, 170 people were killed when a Tu-154 plane crashed in Ukraine on a flight to St Petersburg.

(Reporting by Robin Paxton; Editing by Charles Dick)

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