The government newspaper Izvestia has reported evidence that Soviet divers long ago discovered the wreckage of KAL-007, the Korean airliner shot down by Soviet fighters in 1983.
Izvestia reported recently that unidentified high-ranking officials told one of its reporters that military divers "climbed all over" the Boeing 747, which went down into the Sea of Japan on Sept. 1, 1983. All 269 people aboard were killed.But the newspaper said government agencies had refused to confirm the report, and it said it would not publish more details until it has thoroughly checked the information.
Izvestia did not say when the discovery took place, whether any bodies were found, or what was done with the wreckage.
The destruction of Flight KAL-007 caused an international outcry against the Soviet Union. George Schultz, then U.S. secretary of state, accused the Soviet air force of shooting down the plane when it accidentally strayed over a military area during a flight from New York to Seoul via Anchorage.
Soviet officials initially kept silent about the disaster, then charged that the Boeing 747 had invaded Soviet airspace on a secret spy mission.
Several weeks after the disaster, the Soviet Union turned over some floating debris - including seat cushions, oxygen tanks and clothing - to U.S. and Korean officials.
But the Soviet government has never said it found the plane's fuselage or key electronic parts, such as the "black box" flight recorder. Aviation investigators had hoped that those components would show how and why the flight went off course.
Izvestia reported on the issue in a half-page article published Dec. 20. It said the plane was discovered at a depth of several dozen yards off Maneron Island, near Sakhalin, a large island north of Japan.
The Dec. 20 article reported that four U.S. senators had written to President Mikhail S. Gorbachev asking for the results of any Soviet investigation into the KAL-007 disaster.
Izvestia suggested that it was time for the Soviet Union to turn over whatever information it has on the incident and, if the evidence warrants, to accept blame for "a monstrous mistake."