Russian Plane Crash Kills Military Choir, All 92 Aboard

Military plane bound for Syria goes down in Sochi minutes after takeoff
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 25, 2016 5:19 AM CST
In this photo taken on Thursday, March 31, 2016, the Alexandrov Ensemble choir performs during a concert in Moscow, Russia.   (Uncredited)
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(Newser) – A Russian plane headed to an air base in Syria with 92 people aboard crashed into the Black Sea on Sunday minutes after taking off from the resort city of Sochi. There was no indication anyone survived the crash of the Tu-154, which belonged to the Defense Ministry and was taking the Alexandrov Ensemble to a New Year's concert at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia. Crews recovered several bodies and ships, and helicopters and drones were searching the area for more. A total of 84 passengers and eight crew members were on the plane when it disappeared from radars two minutes after taking off in good weather, reports the AP. Emergency crews found fragments less than a mile from shore. A defense affairs committee rep said the crash could have been caused by a technical malfunction or a crew error, but believes it could not have been terrorism because the plane was operated by the military.

"I totally exclude" the idea of an attack bringing down the plane, he said, per the state RIA Novosti news agency. The passenger list included 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble. The ensemble is the official choir of the Russian military. Also on board was Yelizaveta Glinka, a Russian doctor who has won wide acclaim for her charity work that included missions to war zones in eastern Ukraine and Syria. Her foundation said that Glinka was accompanying a shipment of medicines for a hospital in Syria. Nine Russian journalists were also among the passengers. The Tu-154 is a Soviet-built three-engine airliner designed in the late 1960s. The plane that crashed was built in 1983, and underwent repairs in 2014. In 2010, a Tu-154 carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others crashed while trying to land in bad weather at a sporadically used military airport in Smolensk in western Russia, killing everyone on board. (More on Glinka here.)

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