The Russia Defense Ministry announced that a Tupolev Tu-145 military plane carrying 84 passengers and 8 crew members crashed in the Black Sea near Sochi on Sunday.
The plane took off from Moscow, and was headed to the Russian Hmeymim airbase in Latakia, Syria when it crashed.
Aboard the plane were 64 members of the Russian Army’s official choir, the Alexandrov Ensemble, who were set to perform in Syria. Also aboard were nine journalists and eight military members, according to a statement from the Defense Ministry’s official television network.
Bad weather has been ruled out as a cause for the crash. A terror attack has been ruled out as well.
“I rule out version of the terror attack completely. It is the aircraft of the Ministry of Defense, the airspace of the Russian Federation, there cannot be such a version,” Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security Viktor Ozerov is quoted as saying.
According to the Defense Ministry, “all search and rescue services of aviation units on the Southern Military District in Krasnodar and neighboring regions are engaged in aircraft search.”
CNN reported that a mechanical problem, or an error on behalf of the pilot, is a more likely cause for the crash:
Tass has reported that, according to the Defense Ministry, “all search and rescue services of aviation units on the Southern Military District in Krasnodar and neighboring regions are engaged in aircraft search.”
According to Tass, the plane was built in 1983 and had 6,689 hours of flight. “The last repair was on December 29, 2014, and in September 2016 it underwent scheduled maintenance,” the Defense Ministry said as quoted by Tass.
The Defense Ministry also said, according to Sputnik, that it had identified the pilot as Roman Volkov, describing him as a “class 2 pilot” with more than 3,000 hours of flying, Tass reported.
Four bodies have been retrieved from the crash so far.
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