Body of crashed Russian plane found in Black Sea
The jet, a Soviet-era design first introduced in the 1970s, had been carrying 84 passengers and eight crew members
Russian divers on Monday found the main body of the military plane that crashed in the Black Sea with 92 people onboard, an official told Russian news agencies.
“Divers... have found the fuselage of the plane that crashed yesterday in the Black Sea,” agencies quoted a member of the emergency ministry's Sochi-based search and rescue team as saying.
It was earlier reported that a Russian Defence Ministry TU-154 plane that had disappeared from radar over the Black Sea with 92 people on board has crashed with none of the passengers and crew members surviving. A rescue team had found the crash site in the Black Sea near the coast of the Sochi, Interfax said.
Other Russian news agencies reported earlier that the Russian aircraft had disappeared from radar soon after taking off from Sochi, a Black Sea resort town. The plane had disappeared from radar just minutes after take-off from Sochi, the BBC reported, citing Russian media sources.
Sources at the defense ministry said that there were 84 passengers and 8 crew members on board.
Fragments of the plane have already been found at a depth of 50-70 metres at a distance of around 1.5 kilometres (0.93 miles)from the Russian coast, agencies reported. Russia's RIA news agency, citing an unidentified security source, said preliminary data indicated that the plane had crashed because of a technical malfunction or a pilot error.
The Interfax news agency cited an unnamed source as saying the plane had not sent an SOS signal. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Sunday it was too early to say what had caused the crash. President Vladimir Putin was being kept informed of latest developments, Peskov added.
More than 60 members of the internationally-renowned Red Army Choir were on board, Russia's defence ministry said.
A list of passengers and crew published by the ministry showed that 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, the army's official musical group, and its conductor Valery Khalilov were on board the Tu-154 traveling to Syria to celebrate the New Year with Russian troops.
Russia's Defence Ministry regularly flies musicians into Syria to put on concerts for military personnel. The base they were heading for, Hmeymim, is in Latakia province. It is from there that Russia flies air strikes against Syrian rebels.
Earlier in December, another Russian Defence Ministry crashed in Siberia with 39 people on board as it tried to make an emergency landing near a Soviet-era military base. Nobody was been killed in that incident, though 32 people were airlifted to hospital.
[With AFP and Reuters]