- The Tu-154 military plane disappeared from radars at 05:20 a.m. local time (02:20 GMT). It was carrying 92 people – including military personnel, a band, and reporters. It was aiming to go to the Syrian province of Latakia. No survivors have been reported.
A Russian military Tu-154 plane has crashed into the Black Sea, confirmed Russia’s defence ministry.
“Fragments of the Tu-154 plane of the Russian defence ministry were found 1.5km (one mile) from the Black Sea coast of the city of Sochi at a depth of 50 to 70 metres,” said the statement.
Defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov added that the “body of a person killed as a result the crash … was found 6km off the coast of Sochi.”
The Interfax news agency, citing local rescuers, said no survivors have been found.
The military aircraft, which was carrying service personnel as well as members of the famous Alexandrov Ensemble military band as well as journalists, disappeared from a radar 20 minutes after taking off from Adler airport in Sochi for refuelling at refuelling 05:20 a.m. local time (02:20 GMT).
The plane originated from Moscow, Russia and its final destination was intended to be for the Syrian province of Latakia where Russian troops are stationed to carry out air strikes in support of Syrian government forces.
Those Syrian government forces are currently battling rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The passengers were mostly made up of the Alexandrov Ensemble band and only eight crew members because they were going to Syria to perform on New Year’s Eve for Russian troops that are deployed at Russia’s Hmeimim air base, near Latakia.
Nine journalists, eight soldiers, one NGO member, and two civil servants were also on board the flight.
The Russian defence ministry said that an investigation has been launched to determine whether any violations of air transport safety regulations had taken place because flying conditions were reported as favourable.
The Tu-154 aircraft is a staple for the Russian military. It is the work horse of the Soviet and Russian airlines. They were modernised in 1986 with new engines and equipment, the aircraft has seen 39 fatal accidents. Very few of the accidents were down to technical problems and instead due to weather conditions and poor air traffic control.
However, in 2001, a Russian Tu-154 aircraft was shot down over the Black Sea killing 78 people. The Ukrainian military initially denied involvement before admitting that the plane could have accidentally shot down in a military exercise.
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