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Russian military plane crashes in Black Sea near Sochi

  • 5 minutes ago
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Russia's Tu-154 military transport planes have been regularly flying to Syria, escorted by Russian bombers (file picture)
A Russian military plane with 91 people on board has crashed into the Black Sea, Russia's defence ministry says.
The plane disappeared from radar 20 minutes after taking off from the resort of Sochi at 05:20 (02:20 GMT) and fragments have now been found.
The defence ministry said the Tu-154 was carrying service personnel, members of the famed Alexandrov military band and reporters.
The plane was flying to Syria's Latakia province.
It 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 from the Black Sea coast of the city of Sochi at a depth of 50 to 70 metres."
Reports in the area said conditions for flying were favourable.
Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said the plane was carrying passengers to a New Year's performance for Russian troops deployed in Syria.

Who are the Alexandrov Ensemble?

  • Alexandrov Ensemble is the official choir of the Russian armed forces
  • Known as the Red Army Choir, 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
  • Listen to the Alexandrov Ensemble here

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.
In April 2010, a Tu-154 plane crashed in Smolensk, western Russia, killing all 96 people on board, including the Polish President Lech Kaczynski.

A Tu-154, operated by Siberian Airlines, was shot down over the Black Sea in October 2001, killing 78 people.
The plane was travelling from Tel Aviv in Israel to Novosibirsk in Russia, and most of the passengers were Israeli.
The Ukrainian military initially denied involvement but officials later admitted the plane could have been hit accidentally during a training exercise.

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