A probe has been launched by air crash investigators to find out why a Russian military plane with 92 people on board plummeted from the sky into the Black Sea. Investigators say they haven’t ruled out the possibility of a terror attack.
A Russian official had earlier moved to downplay any talk of a terror attack. However, minister Maxim Skolov has now said that is not being ruled out. The Tu-154 plane belonged to the Defence Ministry. It had only been in the air for two minutes when it crashed.
It had been heading from Sochi to Syria, carrying members of the Russian army choir on board so they could performed at a concert to celebrate the New Year. There are understood to be no survivors. Already, wellwishers have sent messages of condolence. The Syrian president Bashar Assad sent a letter to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin to express his condolences.
Mr Assad said the news of the tragedy had been met in Syria with “deep grief and sadness.” He described the two countries as partners in the fight against terrorist activity. The Alexandrov Ensemble army choir is world famous and had been due to perform at a morale boosting show at a Russian military base in Syria.
Immediately after the crash, a rescue operation was launched, but no sign of any survivors could be found at the accident site, which lies less than a mile from the shoreline. So far, several bodies have been recovered, and ships, drones and divers are being used to look for more so loved ones will be able to give them a proper goodbye. A nationwide day of mourning has now been declared in Russia by President Putin, to take place on Monday.
So far, the identities of those who have died has not been released. However, it is understood that a renowned Russian charity doctor was on board the craft. Yelizaveta Glinka, better known as Doctor Liza, has been lauded for charity work. Her foundation Just Help said she was on board along with a shipment of medicines.