In a tragic event, a TU-154 Russian military plane crashed into the Black Sea near Russia’s resort city of Sochi with 92 people on board in he early hours of December 25th. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Monday as a day of mourning.
According to defense ministry of Russia, debris of the plane, heading for Latakia city in Syria, was discovered 1.5 km from the coast at a depth of 50-70 meters. Unfortunately, no survivors were identified. Among them were reportedly, 64 musicians, 9 military reporters, 8 soldiers, 2 civil servants and 8 crew members.
Russia’s famous Alexandrov Ensemble, once known as the Red Army Choir, was reportedly on the plane, heading to Syria to perform a New Year's concert for Russian soldiers in Hmeimim Air Base in Latakia.
"The search operation is continuing," said Major-General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman to defense ministry.
He added that four ships, four helicopters, a plane and a drone were working in the area and that a military commission was headed to Sochi to investigate the incident.
The ministry confirmed, Sunday, the recovery of 10 bodies.
The plane reportedly took off from Chkalovsky Airport in Moscow and landed at Adler Airfield in disappeared for refueling. Following, the plane disappeared from radar.The Kremlin speculates that a technical malfunction was the major reason for the plane crash.
Stemming from information received from an unidentified security source, RIA News Agency in Russia reported that the cause for the crash may be a pilot error. Another source told Russian agencies that terrorist action has been ruled out.
Passengers had no chance to survive, an unnamed ministry source told Russian news agencies, as no life-rafts had been found.
There were no unfavorable weather conditions to hinder the flight, reports from the area claimed. An audio recording of the final conversation between air traffic controllers and the plane, aired on Russian media, indicated no adverse conditions.
The latest in crashes involving the TU-154 aircraft, which has been serving various Russian airlines since the Soviet era, in total, 39 accidents have occurred. The “Russian workhorse” was also involved in the scandalous crash near the Russian city Smolensk in 2010, killing all 92 on board, including then Polish President Lech Kaczynski.
Following the deadly incident, German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered her condolences to President Putin,
“My thoughts are with the families of the victims.”
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also conveyed his sympathy for the tragic loss of Russian citizens in the accident, expressing his “hopes that some survivors could be still found and rescued.”
In a comment regarding the accident, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland, voiced his condolences, too, saying,
"Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the victims … and we are thinking of them on this sad day for Russia."