Russian Plane Carrying 92 Crashes into Black Sea

A Russian military plane carrying passengers to Russia's Hmeimim airbase outside the coastal Syrian city of Latakia, crashed into the Black Sea on Sunday.

The latest data from Russia's Defense Ministry suggests 92 people were on board the plane - 8 crew members and 84 passengers. Among them was Executive Director of the Spravedlivaya Pomoshch (Fair Aid) charity fund Elizaveta Glinka, known as Dr. Liza, as well as servicemen and reporters, including those from Channel One, Zvezda and NTV.

The plane was also carrying more than 60 members of the famous Alexandrov Ensemble, the official army choir of the Russian Armed Forces, who were flying in to wish Happy New Year to the air group of Russia’s Aerospace Forces at the Hmeymim air base. The choir’s head, Valery Khalilov, was also on the list of passengers.

The Defense Ministry said the debris of the Tu-154 plane was found 1.5 km from the coast near Sochi at a depth of 50-70 meters with eleven bodies. The Ministry reported that there were no signs of survivors.

The plane disappeared from the radar two minutes after taking off from Sochi, where the plane had landed to fill up fuel supplies.

"The area of the crash site has been established. No survivors have been spotted, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, a ministry spokesman, told reporters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered condolences to the families of the deceased and declared December 26 a national day of mourning.

Russia’s news agency Tass reports that Russia’s Investigative Committee is looking at all possible theories of the Tu-154 plane crash, including a terrorist attack.

"The Investigative Committee is looking at various theories. Naturally, it considers the entire spectrum and any possible reasons that might have led to the crash. It is too early to speak about a terrorist attack," Maxim Sokolov, Russian Minister of Transport, said.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the aircraft had been in service since 1983 and had flown some 7,000 hours since. The plane last underwent repairs in December 2014 and was serviced this September.

By Thea Morrison

26 December 2016 10:22