Black box re­cov­ered from doomed Rus­sian flight

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

SERGEY PIVOVAROV / REUTERS

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.

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