Tens of thousands of Poles softly sang the national anthem and tossed flowers at the hearse carrying the body of President Lech Kaczynski to the presidential palace on Sunday after it was returned from Russia, where he and dozens of political, military and religious leaders were killed in a plane crash.

The plane carrying Kaczynski's body arrived from the Smolensk airport, where he and 95 others had been heading Saturday to honour 22,000 Polish officers slain by the Soviet secret police in 1940 in the western Soviet Union.

The coffin bearing the remains were met first by his daughter Marta, whose mother Maria also died in the crash. She was followed by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, former Prime Minister and the President's twin brother.

There was no sign of the twins' ailing mother Jadwiga, who has been hospitalised. The President had cancelled several foreign trips lately to be by her side.

Earlier, the country held two minutes of silence in memorial for those killed in the crash.

Hundreds bowed their heads, eyes closed, in front of the presidential palace.

The death of the President and much of the state and defence establishment in Russia, en route to commemorating one of the saddest events in the neighbouring nations' long, complicated history, was laden with tragic irony.

Acting President and Parliament Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski said he would call for early elections within 14 days, in line with the Constitution. The vote must be held within another 60 days.

In Moscow, Russia's Transport Ministry said Russian and Polish investigators had begun to decipher flight data recorders of the aging Soviet-built Tu-154 airliner that crashed while trying to land in deep fog in Smolensk.

The Smolensk regional government said Russian dispatchers had asked the Polish crew to divert from the military airport there because of the fog and land instead in Moscow or Minsk.

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