Monday, December 26, 2016

Russia plane crash: Huge search for bodies in Black Sea

December 26, 2016 (BBC News Europe) Some 3,000 people, including more than 100 divers, as well as ships, planes, helicopters and submersibles are involved in the operation near Sochi. Some fragments of the plane have been found, but initial reports that the fuselage was sighted have been denied. The Tu-154 plane carrying soldiers, musicians and reporters was heading for Syria. The flight had originated in Moscow and landed in Sochi for refuelling. The plane disappeared from radar two minutes after taking off from Sochi's Adler airport at 05:25 (02:25 GMT) on Sunday, heading for Latakia in Syria, the defence ministry said. It was carrying 64 members of the famed Alexandrov military music ensemble, who were to perform for Russian troops in Syria.

The Tu-154 that crashed into the Black Sea is seen at a military airport near Moscow in 2015

Emergency officials said initial information suggested the fuselage was located 27m (89ft) below the surface and 1.7km (one mile) from the shore in the direction of the runway. So far only 11 bodies and 154 body parts have been recovered, but officials believe many more may be trapped inside the remains of the aircraft. Search teams worked through the night in three shifts, and the operation "did not stop for a minute", defence ministry spokesman Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov said at a briefing on Monday.
Tupolev-154: Russian workhorse
  • The backbone of Soviet and Russian airlines for decades
  • Three engines, narrow-bodied and medium range
  • Designed in the mid-60s, came into service in 1972 and was modernised in 1986 with new engines and equipment
  • Has seen 39 fatal accidents, although few were due to technical problems. Many were as a result of difficult weather conditions and poor air traffic control. A few were lost in conflicts including in Lebanon, Georgia and Afghanistan
  • Not used in Russia's civil aviation since 2009, but is still used by the military. Only about 50 in service worldwide
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