Rus­sia ex­am­ines pos­si­bil­i­ties

Dozens of singers from the Red Army Choir had been headed to Syria.

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD - By Vladimir Isachenkov and Ver­noika Silchenko

sochi, rus­sia» Backed by ships, he­li­copters and drones, Rus­sian res­cue teams searched Sun­day for vic­tims af­ter a Rus­sian plane car­ry­ing 92 peo­ple to Syria crashed into the Black Sea shortly af­ter take­off. In­ves­ti­ga­tors said they were look­ing into every pos­si­ble cause for the crash, in­clud­ing a ter­ror at­tack.

All 84 pas­sen­gers and eight crew mem­bers on the Rus­sian mil­i­tary’s Tu-154 plane are be­lieved to have died when it crashed two min­utes af­ter tak­ing off at 5:25 a.m. in good weather from the south­ern Rus­sian city of Sochi. The pas­sen­gers in­cluded dozens of singers in Rus­sia’s world-fa­mous mil­i­tary choir.

More than 3,000 res­cue work­ers on 32 ships — in­clud­ing more than 100 divers flown in from across Rus­sia — were search­ing the crash site at sea and along the shore, the De­fense Min­istry said. He­li­copters, drones and sub­mersibles were be­ing used to help spot bod­ies and de­bris. Pow­er­ful spot­lights were brought in so the op­er­a­tion could con­tinue all night.

Emer­gency crews found frag­ments of the plane about a mile from shore. By Sun­day evening, res­cue teams had re­cov­ered 11 bod­ies, and Trans­port Min­is­ter Maxim Sokolov said frag­ments of other bod­ies were found.

Asked if a ter­ror at­tack was a pos­si­bil­ity, Sokolov said in­ves­ti­ga­tors were look­ing into every pos­si­ble rea­son for the crash. Sev­eral ex­perts noted fac­tors that sug­gested a ter­ror at­tack, such as the crew’s fail­ure to re­port any mal­func­tion and the fact that plane de­bris was scat­tered over a wide area.

The plane was tak­ing the Red Army Choir, also known as the Alexan­drov En­sem­ble, to per­form at a New Year’s con­cert at He­meimeem air base in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia. Those on board also in­cluded nine Rus­sian jour­nal­ists and a Rus-

On Sun­day at a pier out­side Sochi, Rus­sian searchers carry a stretcher with a body re­cov­ered af­ter a mil­i­tary plane crashed in the Black Sea. The plane crashed on its way to Syria. AFP/Getty Images

A woman lays flow­ers at the home stage build­ing of the Red Army Choir in Moscow. Alexan­der Utkin, AFP/Getty Images

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