Themorningbellbd.com desk, December 25: A Russian military plane with 93 people on board has crashed into the Black Sea, Russia’s defence ministry says.
The plane disappeared from radar two minutes after taking off from the resort of Sochi at 05:25 (02:25 GMT). Debris and one body have been found, with no reports of any survivors.
The defence ministry said the Tu-154 was carrying soldiers, 65 members of the famed Alexandrov military music ensemble, and nine reporters.
It was flying to Latakia in Syria.
The flight originated in Moscow and had landed at Adler airport in Sochi for refuelling.
The defence ministry said in a statement: “Fragments of the Tu-154 plane of the Russian defence ministry were found 1.5km (one mile) from the Black Sea coast of the city of Sochi at a depth of 50 to 70m (165-230ft).”
Alexandrov Ensemble is the official choir of the Russian armed forces
It was founded in 1928 during the Soviet era
The group also includes an orchestra and dancers
It takes its name from its first director, Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov, who wrote the music to the national anthem of the Soviet Union
Holds the right to use the term Red Army Choir, although the interior ministry’s MVD Ensemble also uses it
An audio recording played on Russian media and said to be of the final conversation between air traffic controllers and the plane reveals no sign of any difficulties being faced by the crew.
Voices remain calm until the plane disappears and the controllers try in vain to re-establish contact.
Reports from the area said flying conditions were favourable.
The defence ministry has published a passenger list (in Russian), showing that 65 of those on board were from the Alexandrov Ensemble, including its director, Valery Khalilov.
There were nine journalists, eight soldiers, two civil servants and eight crew members.
Also on board was Elizaveta Glinka, known as Dr Liza, the executive director of the Fair Aid charity and the inaugural winner of Russia’s state prize for achievements in human rights.
Mr Konashenkov said the plane was carrying passengers to a New Year’s performance for Russian troops deployed in Syria.
The performance was scheduled to take place at Russia’s Hmeimim air base, near Latakia.
Russia has been carrying out air strikes in support of Syrian government forces who are battling rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.