Black box recovered from doomed Russian flight
The main black box of a Syria-bound Russian military plane that crashed into the Black Sea with 92 people onboard has been found in a massive, ongoing search operation, authorities said on Tuesday.
“The main black box was found at 5:42 am Moscow time 1,600 meters from the shore at a depth of 17 meters,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, adding that the device would be sent to Moscow to be deciphered by experts.
The Tu-154 jet, whose passengers included 64 members of the army’s official musical group, known as the Red Army Choir, went down off the seaside resort city of Sochi shortly after takeoff on Sunday.
The group, which included conductor Valery Khalilov, was set to perform for Russian troops at the Hmeimim air base in Syria.
Investigators have yet to confirm the cause of the crash, but officials have said an act of terror was not being considered. Russia’s Federal Security Service has said it is looking into four suspected causes: pilot error, technical failure, faulty fuel and an object in the engine.
Search crews are scrambling to recover bodies and remaining debris from the aircraft in an operation involving 192 divers, 45 vessels, 12 planes, five helicopters and 15 deepwater machines.
The ministry said that five plane fragments were found overnight 30 meters deep some 1,700 meters from shore.
Part of the plane’s fuselage, measuring 3.5 by 4.5 meters, was recovered on Monday evening.
The ministry said on Tuesday that 12 bodies and 156 body fragments had been recovered from the water since the crash. They will be sent to Moscow for identification, it said.
The Kommersant daily newspaper reported that investigators are relying on a witness statement by a coast guard member who saw the plane in its final moments descending toward the sea with its nose tilted sharply upward.
Authorities have not said how long it would take to decipher the black box information, which could help determine the reason for the crash.
Passengers on the flight also included military officers, journalists and popular charity worker Yelizaveta Glinka, known as “Doctor Liza”, who had been set to delivery medical supplies to a hospital in the coastal Syrian city of Latakia near the Russian air base.
Mourners hold portraits of those who died aboard a Russian Tu-154 military jet, which crashed into the Black Sea on Sunday, during a Monday memorial event in Rostovon-Don, Russia.