Russia: 92 feared dead as military plane crashes near Sochi

Sarah Chappell with Tass, Interfax, Reuters

A Russian defence ministry plane, carrying 92 people on route to Syria, has crashed into the Black Sea near Sochi.

The defence ministry said no survivors had been found at the crash site, where a huge search operation is underway.

The Tupolev 154 was carrying mainly musicians from the renowned Alexandrov Ensemble (previously known as the Red Army Choir). They were on route to the Khmeimim air base near Latakia for a new year concert.

Most of the 84 passengers were members of the choir, along with nine journalists. Eight crew were also on the plane, the defence ministry said.

The TU-154 disappeared from radar at around minutes after taking off near Sochi, where it had stopped to refuel, at 2.40 GMT.

Viktor Ozerov, head of the Russian parliament’s defence committee said he “totally excludes” terrorism as a cause of the crash, Russian media reported. Ozerov said the crash could have been caused by a technical malfunction or crew error.

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