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