A Russian Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft of the Russian Defense Ministry crashed in the Black Sea near the city of Sochi early Sunday after the takeoff from the airport, Russian TASS news agency reported.
“Tu-154 [aircraft] of the Defense Ministry departed from Sochi and disappeared from radars after some time. Its search is currently organized,” the source said.
The aircraft of the Russian Defence Ministry with 84 passengers and 8 crew members on board was en route to the Russian Hmeymim airbase in Latakia, Syria. It took off from Moscow and landed at the Adler airport near Sochi for refueling.
The Tu-154 disappeared from radars at 5:25 a.m. (0225 GMT), two minutes after taking off from the Adler airport in southern Russia.
TASS has published the list of the passengers that includes 64 members of the renowned Russian army’s choir – the Alexandrov Ensemble, 9 media representatives, a head of NGO and MoD officers.
The rescue team has been searching the crash site.
“Four ships, four helicopters, one aircraft and drones are involved in the search and rescue operation. Six ships and vessels of the Black Sea fleet, remotely operated submersibles and 63 divers have been additionally sent to the crash area. Fifty more divers from other fleets will be brought to the crash area in about an hour,” the Russian Defence Ministry said.
The Defence Ministry reported that no survivors were found at the crash site of the Tu-154 in the Black Sea.
“The bodies of seven people have been discovered,” the source in the law enforcements said to TASS.
The Russian investigation committee considers the technical malfunction of the aircraft as a main reason on the incident, as the Interfax agency reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Monday December 26 the day of national mourning for the victims of the Tu-154 crash.