‘No survivors’ as Russian jet crashes

MOSCOW: A Russian military plane heading to Syria crashed into the Black Sea on Sunday, with no sign of survivors among the 92 onboard, including Red Army Choir members on their way to celebrate the New Year with troops.
The Tu-154 plane went down shortly after taking off from the southern city of Adler where it had been refuelling, Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a briefing broadcast on the ministry’s website.
It disappeared from radar just two minutes after it took off at 5:25 am (0225 GMT). The ministry told agencies there was no sign of any survivors at the crash site and that 10 bodies had been recovered off the coast of the resort city of Sochi, as authorities pledged to dispatch an additional 100 divers to aid in the search.
“Fragments of the Tu-154 plane of the Russian Defence Ministry were found 1.5 km from the Black Sea coast of the city of Sochi at a depth of 50 to 70 metres,” the ministry said.
President Vladimir Putin told state television that Russia will observe a national day of mourning on Monday.
The plane had been on a routine flight to Russia’s Hmeimim air base in western Syria, which has been used to launch air strikes in Moscow’s military campaign.
Among the plane’s 84 passengers were Russian servicemen as well as 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, the army’s official musical group also known as the Red Army Choir, and its conductor Valery Khalilov. They were headed to Syria to participate in New Year celebrations
at the air base.