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Polish president to be buried Saturday

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Poles cry, pray over president's death
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Polish president killed in air crash to be buried on Saturday
  • Lech Kaczynski's body may be put on display, media reports say
  • Kaczynski died with 95 others in a plane crash in Russia on Saturday
  • Investigators say aircraft's flight data recorders in good condition

Warsaw, Poland (CNN) -- Investigations were continuing Monday into the air disaster which killed the Polish president as questions were being asked over the circumstances surrounding the crash in Russia that also killed senior government officials.

Amid widespread mourning in Poland, state run TVP Polonia reported President Lech Kaczynski will be buried Saturday with his wife, who died in the crash. It said his body may lie in state at the Presidential Palace ahead of the funeral.

As examination of the aircraft's flight data recorders continued Monday, Russia's Health Ministry said only 24 bodies -- out of nearly 100 killed -- have been positively identified, among them First Lady Maria Kaczynski.

Health Minister Tatyana Golikova said that more than 130 relatives of the victims arrived in Moscow from Poland to help identify the deceased.

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"We expect the procedure to take two or three days. We will do our utmost to organize this work thoroughly and quickly," Golikova said, according to her press office.

Speculation over what caused the crash has mounted in the wake of the weekend disaster, while questions have been raised over why so many of Poland's military, economic and civic leaders were aboard the same flight.

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Aviation officials in Russia, which has emphasized that there is no evidence it was responsible, have said the plane ignored Smolensk air traffic control commands to divert to another airport because of bad weather.

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Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov said Monday that flight recorders were in shape to "conduct a detailed transcript and analysis of all flight information and the work of the plane's equipment systems up till the moment of the crash."

There is also evidence that the crew knew about the poor weather conditions and was advised to land at an alternate airfield, he said.

Poland's ambassador to Moscow, Jerzy Bahr, warned against jumping to conclusions ahead of official inquiries.

"Many people think that this is something which the pilot did wrong, but it must be investigated," he told CNN.

As Poland began a week of mourning, tributes continued to be paid to Kaczynski. A sea of candles continued to grow outside the Presidential Palace in Warsaw Monday as people lined up to sign books of condolence.

Parliament Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski, who is now acting president, has declared "a time for national mourning."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited the Polish Embassy in Moscow, where he laid flowers under a large photo of Kaczynski and his wife. He also wrote in a book of condolences at the embassy, where the flags were flying at half-staff.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon expressed his condolences for the loss.

"The United Nations stands with the Polish people and government at this time of sorrow, and I hope they will be able to overcome this moment of sorrow," he said. Kaczynski had worked closely with the United Nations on the issue of climate change.

Biography: Lech Kaczynski

Kaczynski, 60, had been traveling with a Polish delegation to Russia for the 70th anniversary of the Russian massacre of Polish prisoners of war in the village of Katyn.

About 20,000 Poles, including soldiers and civilians, were executed there during World War II.

Other Polish officials killed in the crash include Aleksander Szczyglo, the head of the National Security Office; Jerzy Szmajdzinski, the deputy parliament speaker; Andrzej Kremer, the deputy foreign minister; and Gen. Franciszek Gagor, the army chief of staff, according to Kaczynski's Law and Justice Party.

The party also said that Slawomir Skrzypek, head of the National Bank of Poland, was killed.

Russian Prime Minister, who has been appointed to lead an inquiry into the crash, spoke Saturday at the crash site, where charred pieces of the airplane were strewn through a wooded area. Some pieces, including one of the wheel wells, were upside down.

"As our first priority, we must establish the causes of this tragedy," he said. "As a second priority, we must do everything in our power to assist the families and relatives of the deceased."

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen in Warsaw, Poland, and Nic Robertson in Smolensk, Russia, contributed to this report.

 
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