Wednesday 21 August 2019

Body of crashed Russian military jet found in search for black box

Ministry of Emergency Situations employees prepare rescue boats at a pier just outside Sochi, Russia, Monday, Dec. 26, 2016. All 84 passengers and eight crew members on the Russian military's Tu-154 plane are believed to have died Sunday morning when it crashed two minutes after taking off from the southern Russian city of Sochi. (AP Photo/Viktor Klyushin)
Ministry of Emergency Situations employees prepare rescue boats at a pier just outside Sochi, Russia, Monday, Dec. 26, 2016. All 84 passengers and eight crew members on the Russian military's Tu-154 plane are believed to have died Sunday morning when it crashed two minutes after taking off from the southern Russian city of Sochi. (AP Photo/Viktor Klyushin)
Flower tributes in front of portraits of Russian TV journalists who were aboard the crashes military plane, displayed in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016. A Russian plane carrying 92 people to an air base in Syria crashed Sunday into the Black Sea minutes after taking off from the city of Sochi, Russia's Defense Ministry said. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
People place candles to honour passengers and crew members of Russian military Tu-154 plane crashed into the Black Sea on its way to Syria on Sunday, at an embankmen in the resort city of Sochi, Russia December 25, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
A worker lowers the Russian national flag to half-mast on a roof of the city administration building, as the country observes a day of mourning for victims of the Tu-154 plane which crashed into the Black Sea on its way to Syria on Sunday, in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, December 26, 2016. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Navy ships sail near the crash site of a Russian military Tu-154 plane, which crashed into the Black Sea on its way to Syria on Sunday, in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, Russia, December 26, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Flowers are offered in front of portraits of Russian TV journalists who were aboard a crashed military plane, displayed at the main TV building in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 26, 2016. Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov says a pilot error or a technical fault is likely to be the cause of Sunday's plane crash over the Black Sea. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Independent.ie Newsdesk and Agencies

Rescue workers have found the fuselage of the jet that crashed into the Black Sea, says the Russian emergency ministry.

Earlier Russia's intelligence agency said it saw no signs of a possible terror plot in the military plane crash over the Black Sea in which all 92 people on board are believed to have died.

The Tu-154 - carrying 84 passengers and eight crew - crashed two minutes after taking off from the southern city of Sochi.

The passengers included dozens of singers in Russia's world-famous military choir the Alexandrov Ensemble, nine Russian journalists and a Russian doctor known for her charity work in war zones.

By Monday morning, rescue teams had recovered 11 bodies which were flown to Moscow, where the remains will be identified.

The FSB agency said it "has not found any signs or facts pointing to a possible terror attack or sabotage on board" and is focusing on possibilities including pilot error, low quality of fuel, external objects getting in the engine or an unspecified technical fault.

The loss of so many talented colleagues is devastating to members of the Russian Defence Ministry choir who did not get on the plane.

The choir was on its way to perform a New Year's concert at a Russian air base in Syria when the plane crashed on Sunday right after take-off from Sochi.

Soloist Vadim Ananyev had got permission to skip the concert to help his wife as they just had a new baby.

Mr Ananyev said: "I have lost my friends and colleagues, all killed, all five soloists - I feel in complete disarray."

He said: "It is such a shame. I have known these people for 30 years. I know their wives and children. I feel terrible for the children and for all that I have lost."

Mr Ananyev said he has received condolences from all over Russia and from abroad.

People are bringing flowers to the office of the choir as Russia holds a day of mourning.

Red and white carnations have piled up at tables outside the Moscow office of the choir.

Mourners also lit candles and brought flowers to Channel One and NTV, whose TV journalists were going to Syria to cover the concert, and to a charity founded by Dr Yelizaveta Glinka, who was on the plane bringing medicines to Syria.

Russian TV channels have taken entertainment shows off their programmes and outdoor seasonal celebrations have been scrapped across Russia.

Russian transport minister Maxim Sokolov said a pilot error or a technical fault are the likely causes of Sunday's crash, as the nation held a day of mourning for the victims.

Russian emergency crews have been searching the Black Sea off Sochi for victims and plane debris.

More than 3,000 people - including over 100 divers flown in from across Russia - were working on Sunday from 32 ships and several helicopters to search the crash site.

Drones and submersibles were being used to help spot bodies and debris. Powerful spotlights were brought in so the search could go on around the clock.

Emergency crews found fragments of the plane about one mile from shore. By Sunday evening, rescue teams had recovered 11 bodies and Mr Sokolov said fragments of other bodies were also found.

More than 3,000 rescue workers on 32 ships - including over 100 divers flown in from across Russia - have been searching the crash site at sea and along the shore, the Defence Ministry said.

Helicopters, drones and submersibles were being used to help spot bodies and debris.

Several aviation experts noted factors that could suggest 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.

"Possible malfunctions ... certainly wouldn't have prevented the crew from reporting them," said Vitaly Andreyev, a former senior Russian air traffic controller.

Emergency crews on Sunday found fragments of the plane about one mile from the shore but a deputy defence minister said experts estimated the Tu-154 crash site at 3.7 miles from the shore.

Mourners lit candles at Sochi Adler airport's chapel and laid flowers at an improvised shrine that featured photos of the plane, and of some victims.

The plane originated from Moscow's military airport of Chkalovsky and stopped in Sochi for refuelling.

Despite the Syrian connection, Mr Sokolov said the government saw no need to heighten security measures at Russian airports.

The Black Sea search area - which covers about four square miles - is plagued by underwater currents that can carry debris and body fragments into the open sea.

Mr Sokolov said the plane's flight recorders did not have radio beacons, so locating them on the seabed was going to be challenging.

Russia asked the authorities of Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia, which borders Russia just 4.3 miles east of the Sochi airport, to help monitor the Black Sea area for possible plane fragments or bodies.

Russian planes have been hit before by terror attacks, including one just last year.

In October 2015, a plane carrying mostly Russian tourists back from holiday in Egypt was brought down by a bomb over the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people aboard.

Officials said the explosive was planted in the plane's luggage compartment. Islamic State claimed responsibility.

PA Media

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