Poland Mourns President Killed in Plane Crash

The mystery as to why what caused a Polish aircraft carrying the nation's president and dozens of other senior figures to crash in thick fog in Russia is adding to Poles' sense of shock and grief.

CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reports a preliminary examination of the plane's flight recorders, according to the Russians, shows there was no technical fault with the aircraft, suggesting pilot error.

Poland's history has had more than its share of tragedy and once again the country finds itself in a period of national morning. Crowds, which have been thronging to the center of Warsaw to pay their respects have begun gathering again.

The return of President Lech Kaczynski's body was both a family and a national expression of grief. His daughter Marta, 29, touched her forehead to the coffin as thousands of Poles gathered around in mourning.

Marta Kaczynski's mother, the first lady, was also on the doomed flight but her body has not yet been identified yet.

The president's twin bother Jaroslaw, a former prime minister himself, was also at the ceremony Monday in Warsaw to express his own, and the country's, anguish.

The crowds which lined the motorcade route into the capital city ran into the tens of thousands. Arrangements for an official mourning period and lying in state are still being finalized. It's all expected to last a full week.

The president and 95 others died in the crash, and questions about why it happened are flying around in both Poland and Russia. The plane was attempting to land in Russia in thick fog, even though Russian air traffic controllers had reportedly warned against the approach.

There is speculation President Kaczynski may have order the pilot to attempt the landing as he had done in the past.

Many of the bodies have still not been identified, which is further complicating funeral arrangements.

Kaczynski's delegation was en route to the Russian city of Katyn for a ceremony commemorating the infamous massacre there during World War II when Soviet troops murdered as many as 20,000 Polish officers.

Next, there's an election to plan to find a new president, which is supposed to happen within 60 days.

This crash is not merely a national tragedy, it's an unexpected and daunting test for Poland's young democracy.

  • Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips is CBS News senior foreign correspondent, based in London.