Published: Mon, December 26, 2016
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Russian Federation looking into every possible cause behind plane crash

Russian Federation looking into every possible cause behind plane crash

Major-General Igor Konashenkov, a ministry spokesman, said fragments of the plane had been found at a depth of about 70 metres in the Black Sea about 1.5 km off the coast near the city of Sochi.

In televised comments, President Vladimir Putin, speaking in St Petersburg, declared December 26 a national day of mourning. Initially, Viktor Ozerov, head of Russia's defense affairs committee, told news agency RIA Novosti he "totally excludes" terrorism as the cause of the crash. It is the aircraft of the Ministry of Defense, the airspace of the Russian Federation, there can not be such a version.

While officials said they did not believe the crash was caused by terrorism, Russian broadcaster MKRU reported that security cameras nearby recorded a bright flash near the plane before it went down.

More than 30 vessels were deployed in the recovery operation, Sokolov said, and the Defense Ministry said more than 100 divers had been sent to the crash site. Soon after the takeoff, the plane flying to Syria crashed into the Black Sea.

The defence ministry said a widely revered Russian charity doctor was also on board the plane, in addition to nine journalists, a Russian army general and five colonels.

The plane was carrying 82 passengers and 10 crew members, Interfax news agency reported.

The plane had been on a routine flight to Russia's Hmeimim airbase in western Syria, which has been used to launch air strikes in Moscow's military campaign supporting its ally President Bashar al-Assad in the country's devastating civil war.

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A Tu-154 plane from Russia's Ministry of Defense vanished from radar screens at 05.40 a.m. Moscow time (02.40 a.m. GMT) shortly after taking off from the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Hmeymim Air Base is a Russain air base southeast of Latakya city.

"The search operation is continuing", said Konashenkov.

Many government agencies continue to fly the Tu-154 and other old Soviet aircraft, however. The ensemble, informally known as "Russia's singing weapon", has about 200 members and has achieved a number of worldwide awards.

Vladislav Golikov sings during a concert of the Academic Song and Dance Ensemble of the Russian Army, part of the Alexandrov Ensemble, in Moscow, Russia, on May 7, 2014.

"It's an excellent plane, which has proven its reliability during decades of service", veteran pilot Oleg Smirnov said in televised remarks.

Tu-154 aircraft have been involved in a number of accidents in the past. The Tu-154 is heavily used in Russian Federation and overseas. It is from there that Russian Federation launches air strikes against Syrian rebels.

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