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Russian Military Plane With 92 Aboard Crashes Into Black Sea

MOSCOW — A Russian military aircraft carrying 92 people, including members of a famed military choir bound for Syria to entertain Russian forces there, crashed into the Black Sea on Sunday after takeoff from the resort town of Sochi, the Russian authorities said.

Most of the wreckage was found in the sea about one mile from shore, the Russian Defense Ministry said, adding that the plane carried 84 passengers and eight crew members. The country’s investigators have opened a criminal case into the crash.

There was no immediate official report about the fate of those aboard. The cause of the crash had not been determined, although the state-run Rossiya 24 newtwork said that a technical failure was the most likely cause.

The passengers included 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, the Russian military choir, who were traveling to Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base in Syria, and journalists who were covering the event. The band planned to congratulate Russian servicemen in Syria on New Year’s Eve.

Three Channel One journalists, Russia’s main television station, were on board, as well as journalists from the Zvezda television, and the NTV television station, the media outlets said

The plane, a Russian-made Tu-154, disappeared from radar two minutes after taking off from the resort town of Sochi on Sunday morning. Russia’s official weather forecast agency said that conditions near the airport were “normal, easy,” the Interfax news agency reported.

President Vladimir V. Putin was notified about the crash, the Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said. The rescue effort is led by Sergei K. Shoigu, the defense minister.

Founded in the Soviet era, the Alexandrov Ensemble is the official band of the Russian armed forces. It consists of an orchestra, choir and a dance ensemble and is one of the two Russian orchestras allowed to use the title “Red Army Choir.”

Until recently, the Tu-154 was one of the most widely used civilian aircraft in Russian aviation industries. Designed in the 1960s, the plane is still used by a number of Russian government agencies. Russian airlines have mostly replaced outdated Soviet planes with new ones.

Source: NYT > World

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