Russian military aircraft disappears off radar, 91 on board

The Tu-154 plane reportedly belongs to the defence ministry and was flying to Syria's Latakia province
The Tu-154 plane reportedly belongs to the defence ministry and was flying to Syria's Latakia province
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26 December, 2016

The Tu-154 plane, carrying 92 people, all presumed dead, was headed to Russia's air base in Syria when it disappeared from radar following takeoff from Sochi, reports said.

Wreckage from the trijet's fuselage has been located at a depth of 70m (230ft) some 1.5km from the Sochi coast, says the Russian ministry of defence.

Officials do not believe the plane crash was caused by an act of terrorism, according to Viktor Ozerov, head of the defense affairs committee at the upper house of Russian parliament, AP reported.

Russia's RIA news agency, citing an unidentified security source, said preliminary data indicated that the plane had crashed because of a technical malfunction or a pilot error.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday he was "saddened" by the crash.

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- August 29, 1998: A Cubana Tu-154 flight from Quito to Havana skids off the runway and catches fire, killing 79 people, including 10 on the ground when the plane plowed into a soccer field. It is the aircraft of the Ministry of Defense, the airspace of the Russian Federation, there can not be such a version.

Russian doctor Yelizaveta Glinka, who received wide acclaim for her charity work in Ukraine and Syria, was also on board. Valery V. Khalilov, the ensemble's artistic director, was also on the plane, according to the list of passengers.

Gen Konashenkov said the plane was last serviced in September and had undergone more substantial repairs in December 2014.

The band, founded in 1928, is the official choir and dance group for Russia's military and was named for its founder, Alexander Alexandrov.

In recent years, Russian airlines have replaced their Tu-154s with more modern planes, but the military and some other government agencies in Russia have continued to use them.


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