Washington, D.C. Relatives of passengers aboard Korean
Airlines Flight 007 who disappeared when it was hit by a missile from a
Soviet fighter in 1983 will hold a News Conference at 10:00 A.M. on
Thursday, February 14, at the Army & Navy Club, 901
17th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. They will present evidence that the Soviet claim
that all aboard died when the plane crashed into the ocean near Sakhalin
Island on August 31, 1983, is false. After the briefing they will deliver
petitions to the White House and the Russian Embassy addressed to
President Bush and President Vladimir Putin. The petitions, signed by
hundreds, ask them to find out what happened to the 269 men, women and
children aboard the plane.
In December 1991, Sen. Jesse Helms wrote to President Boris Yeltsin,
pointing out that 256 passengers had vanished without a trace. The
Russians found the remains of only 13 at most. Senator Helms asked
Yeltsin to explain what happened to the rest. If they were killed, why
was there no trace of them and their personal belongings in the largely
intact cabin found in relatively shallow water on the ocean floor?
Senator Helms wanted to know what happened to those people. If they died,
where are their bodies? If they survived, where are they?
The following summer, on June 17, 1992, President Yeltsin revealed the
existence of a KGB memo reporting the existence of documents related to
KAL 007 that are so well concealed that it is doubtful that ...
those who come after us will be able to find them. Why havent
these documents be made public?
The relatives and friends of those who disappeared want President Bush
and Congress to renew Senator Helmss request to Russia for answers. They
find it shocking that the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations did
nothing to find the answers to the questions that Senator Helms posed.
Sixty-one American citizens, including Rep. Larry McDonald, a
Democrat from Georgia nationally known for his strong anti-communist
views, are among those who vanished without a trace.
The relatives of the 240 passengers and 29 crew members hope that
President Bush will heed their request, backed by hundreds who have
signed petitions asking him to press President Putin to provide
The principal presenter at the news conference will be Bert Schlossberg,
a scholar living in Israel and son-in-law to passenger Alfred Cruz. He
has spent 10 years researching this case. His book, Rescue 007, The
Untold Story of KAL 007 and its Survivors (Xlibris 2001), presents
strong evidence that nearly all those aboard the plane survived.
He found that the cockpit voice recorder showed that the Soviet fighter
pilot who reported destroying the target was wrong. He had launched two
missiles. He assumed wrongly that the heat seeker had destroyed an engine
it missed. The other missile, which had a proximity fuse, detonated
about 50 meters from the fuselage and tore a small hole in the rear of
The cockpit voice recorder tape, kept secret by the Soviets for many
years, revealed that the flight engineer reported all four engines
functioning normally after the missiles were fired. The cabin did
decompress, but oxygen masks deployed automatically and the plane made a
rapid but controlled descent to the altitude where oxygen masks would not
Japanese and Soviet radar showed the plane progressively slowing down as
it descended until it went below 1000 feet and was off the radar screen.
Schlossberg found no evidence that it broke up when it hit the water. He
believes it ditched successfully near Sakhalin. No big pieces of
wreckage, no baggage, and no bodies were found floating on the ocean. No
life jackets were ever found.
The passengers had at least 12 minutes to don life jackets and take off
their shoes in preparation for ditching. Schlossberg says Soviet military
radio intercepts show that high-level Soviet commanders were angry and
frustrated that KAL 007 was not destroyed and ordered all ships in
the area to launch a rescue effort where the plane was last seen coming
He says ships arrived within 30 minutes after the plane hit the water. He
believes that nearly all aboard survived and that the Soviets sent them
to prisons and special labor camps. These innocent people committed no
crime, but they are serving life sentences and will continue to do so
unless President Putin can be persuaded to set them free. If he claims
that they are all dead, President Bush should demand to know what was
done with the 256 bodies that were not found in the ocean or trapped in
the sunken plane.