Russian defence ministry says its plane with 92 people on board crashes into the Black Sea

Russian defence ministry spokesman says its plane en-route to Syria with 92 people on board crashes into the Black Sea off the Sochi coast.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA (DECEMBER 23, 2016) (RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY) – The Russian Defence Ministry said on Sunday (December 25) one of its TU-154 planes had disappeared from radar screens at 5:25 a.m. (0225 GMT), two minutes after taking off from Adler in southern Russia, where it had stopped to refuel from Moscow, en route to Syria.

The jet, a Soviet-era design first introduced in the 1970s, had been carrying 84 passengers and eight crew members, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, a ministry spokesman told reporters.

At least 60 were members of the Red Army Choir, also known as the Alexandrov Ensemble, who were being flown out to Russia’s Hmeymim air base in Syria to entertain troops in the run-up to the New Year.

Nine Russian reporters had also been on board as well as military servicemen.

Konashenkov said fragments of the plane had been found at a depth of about 70 metres (yards) in the Black Sea about 1.5 km (1 mile) off the coast near the city of Sochi.

“The search operation is continuing. Four vessels and five helicopters are currently operating in the plane search area,” said Konashenkov, adding a military commission had flown to Sochi to look into what happened.