A Russian plane headed to an air base in Syria with 92 people aboard, including members of a well-known military choir, crashed into the Black Sea on Sunday minutes after taking off from the resort city of Sochi, Russia’s defence ministry said. Putin ordered the government to probe the crash of a Syria-bound military plane carrying 92 people.
The Tu-154 plane crashed in the Black Sea shortly after taking off from the southern city of Adler where it had been refuelling, defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian news agencies.
“Fragments of the Russian Defense Ministry’s TU-154 aircraft were discovered in 1.5 kilometers from the Black Sea shore of Sochi at a depth of 50-70 meters,” according to Sputnik quoting the Russian Defence Ministry.
The Interfax news agency cited an unnamed source as saying the plane had not sent an SOS signal. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Sunday it was too early to say what had caused the crash. President Vladimir Putin was being kept informed of latest developments, Peskov added.
Russia’s Defence Ministry regularly flies musicians into Syria to put on concerts for military personnel. The base they were heading for, Hmeymim, is in Latakia province. It is from there that Russia flies air strikes against Syrian rebels.
Viktor Ozerov, head of the defense affairs committee at the upper house of Russian parliament, said the crash could have been caused by a technical malfunction or a crew error, but he believes it could not have been terrorism because the plane was operated by the military.
“I totally exclude” the idea of an attack bringing down the plane, he said in remarks carried by state RIA Novosti news agency.
There were also eight crew members onboard, the ministry said.
A list of passengers published by the defence ministry also included Elizaveta Glinka, a doctor and charity worker who serves on the Kremlin human rights council.
Mikhail Fedotov, who heads the council, said Glinka was travelling to Syria to bring medication to a university hospital in the coastal city of Latakia near the airbase, agencies reported.