helicopters have discovered debris in the Black Sea from a Russian
military transport plane which went off radar en route to Syria. Most
of the passengers on the Tu-154 were members of the famous Alexandrov
Ensemble army choir.
to preliminary reports, the Tupolev transport plane had 92 people on
board, including 84 passengers and eight crew members. It went
missing over the Black Sea at 2:40 GMT shortly after refueling at an
airport near Sochi.
of the passengers on board were members of the Alexandrov Ensemble,
the official choir of the Russian Armed Forces, the Russian Defense
Ministry said. They were travelling from Moscow to the Russian
military base Khmeimim near Latakia, Syria, to take part in Christmas
celebration with the troops deployed there.
from Channel One Russia, NTV, and Zvezda (the official media outlet
of the Russian Defense Ministry), each with three members, were on
board as well, the outlets confirmed.
dispatched from Sochi to search for the aircraft have discovered the
crash site, the ministry reported.
fragments of the Tu-154 plane operated by the Defense Ministry have
been found about 1.5 km off the Black Sea coast of Sochi at a depth
of 50-70 meters,” the
ministry said in a statement.
far, no survivors have been found in the sea, local rescue services
President Vladimir Putin has been informed of the plane’s crash,
the Kremlin said.
reports that weather conditions in the regions were “favorable”
to aviation. No civilian flights have been cancelled yet.
Tupolev Tu-154 is a three-engine medium-range transport plane
designed in the 1960s. It is capable of carrying up to 180
passengers, depending on the version. There are about 50 aircraft of
this type remaining in operation throughout the world, with the
Russian Air Force having the biggest fleet.
the decades, there have been around four dozen fatal incidents
involving the aircraft, most of which were due to pilot error or
improper maintenance. One of the most widely publicized crashes
happened in 2010 near Smolensk, Russia, when a Tu-154M of the Polish
Air Force carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his entourage
crashed in foggy weather, killing all 96 people on board.