Moscow – Russia’s transport minister says a pilot error or a technical fault is likely to be the cause of Sunday’s plane crash over the Black Sea.
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 from Russia’s Sochi.
Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said in televised remarks on Monday that investigators are looking into a possible pilot error or a technical fault and that a terrorist attack was not among the main theories.
Rescue teams on Monday continued to search for victims after the plane on its way to Syria crashed into the Black Sea shortly after takeoff. The passengers included dozens of singers in Russia’s world-famous military choir.
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared December 26 as the day of national mourning for those who died in the Tu-154 plane crash.
The Tu-154 plane from Russia’s Ministry of Defense vanished from radar screens at 5:40 a.m. Moscow time (2:40 a.m. GMT) shortly after taking off from the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
According to the latest information from Russia’s Defense Ministry, there were 92 people on board the aircraft, consisting of 8 crew members and 84 passengers. Among them was the Executive Director of the Spravedlivaya Pomoshch (Fair Aid) charity fund, Elizaveta Glinka, also better known to the Russian public as Dr. Liza, as well as servicemen and reporters, including from Channel One, Zvezda and NTV.
The plane was also carrying more than 60 members of the famous Alexandrov ensemble, an official army choir of the Russian armed forces, who set off to celebrate the New Year with the air group of Russia’s Aerospace Forces at the Hmeymim air base in Syria. The choir’s conductor Valery Khalilov was also on the list of passengers.