A plane flying from Moscow to Syria on Saturday crashed in the Black Sea an hour after stopping to refuel in the coastal city of Sochi. Early reports say that there were 92 people on board in total and that there are no signs of survivors. The plane, which was a Russian military aircraft, was heading to Latakia, Syria to entertain the troops for the holidays. As of this time, Russia’s Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security is insisting that the crash could be due to a pilot error or unknown technical issues but they are completely ruling out a terrorist attack on the aircraft. Defense and Security spokesman Viktor Ozerov insists,
“I rule out version of the terror attack completely. It is the aircraft of the Ministry of Defense, the airspace of the Russian Federation, there cannot be such a version. The plane had to make a U-turn after takeoff over the sea (and) may (have taken) the wrong direction.”
it is early enough that details are still swirling about potential causes and the possibility of survivors, but the potential of anyone surviving this crash is unlikely at this time. Divers and other rescue workers have already been deployed to the site a mile off the coast in the Black Sea. Reports say that some bodies have already been recovered from the water in addition to the debris found, but the exact number is not confirmed at this time.
Confirmed to be traveling on this plane were dozens of members of the Red Army Choir, including the choir’s conductor Valery Kahlilov. More formally known as the Alexandrov Ensemble, the army’s official choir is perhaps best known around the world for their performance at the 2009 Eurovision competition. Although the full choir includes dozens of singers, dancers, and orchestra members this trip only consisted of singers and a few dancers since the performances in Syria were meant to be a cappella for the most part.
Eight journalists were also on board, in addition to the flight’s crew members. According to CNN, a criminal investigation has been launched into the causes of the crash:
The Russian Investigation Committee has launched a routine criminal investigation to examine potential “violation of rules of flight safety or preparation,” committee spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko told Tass. The committee plans to seize documents and interrogate those who prepared the plane for flight, she added. “plans to interrogate those who prepared the plane for flight” and seize documents related to the upkeep and status of the plane.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared Monday a national day of mourning.