The anonimous voice at thelephone says: "I was in Marsala, near Ustica, the disaster's evening. The day after our military base give us the order of silence about the disaster". Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870, also known in the Italian media as the Ustica Disaster, was an Italian flight that suffered an in-flight explosion while in route from Bologna, Italy, to Palermo, Italy. It was a regularly scheduled flight from Guglielmo Marconi Airport in Bologna, to Palermo International Airport in Palermo. The flight departed 2 hours late at 8.08 pm CET on June 27, 1980. At the controls of the McDonnell Douglas DC-9-15 that evening were Captain Domenico Gatti and First Officer Enzo Fontana. The aircraft (registered I-TIGI), which left Guglielmo Marconi Airport bound for Palermo International Airport, crashed at 8.59 pm CET into the Tyrrhenian Sea near the island of Ustica, Italy about 80 miles (130 km) southwest of Naples, Italy. All 81 people on board were killed (2 flight crew members, 2 flight attendants, and 77 passengers). Two Italian Air Force F-104s were scrambled at 9.00 pm CET from Grosseto Air Force Base to locate the accident area and to spot any survivors but they failed due to lack of visibility. In July 2006 the re-assembled fragments of the DC-9 aircraft were returned to Bologna from Pratica di Mare Air Force Base near Rome. Major sources in the Italian media have alleged over the years that the aircraft was shot down during a dog fight involving Libyan, U.S., French and Italian Air Force fighters in an attempted assassination by NATO members on Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi who was flying in the same airspace that evening. Qaddafi has denied being in the area of the accident that evening. The media also reported that radar monitoring released in 1997 by NATO showed that at least seven fighter aircraft were in the vicinity when the jet plunged into the sea off the island of Ustica. According to these sources, the radar shows one or two Libyan MiG-23 had tried to evade detection by flying close to the airliner. Three Italian Air Force F-104s, one U.S. Navy A-7 Corsair II and a French fighter pursued the Libyan MiG-23 and a battle ensued. See however the Misiti and Dalle Mese official technical reports mentioned above, which exclude the presence of aircraft near the accident site. On July 19, 1980, 22 days after the crash, a Libyan MiG-23 crashed on the Sila Mountains in Calabria, Italy, according to eye witnesses and official reports. Media rumors reported that the plane may actually only have been discovered at that time, and that the pilot's body was decomposed, originated allegations that the MiG may have been shot down at the time of the Flight 870 incident.
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