Russian Military Plane Carrying Performers Crashes Off Sochi

  • Aircraft had 84 registered passengers, 8 crew members
  • Plane was on its way to Latakia in Syria, Tass reported

A Russian military plane carrying 92 people crashed after taking off from the Black Sea city of Sochi, according to the Defense Ministry.

The Tu-154 aircraft was carrying 84 passengers and eight crew members, the ministry said on its website. The list included 64 musicians and performers from the well-known army choir Alexandrov Ensemble, a philanthropist, military personnel and media representatives. The choir was preparing to entertain soldiers at an airbase near Latakia before the New Year’s holiday, Tass reported.

Investigators are looking into possible violations of flight safety rules, Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement confirming an earlier count of 91 people on board.

Debris from the plane was found in the Black Sea about 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles) from the shore, Interfax reported, citing the Defense Ministry. The first bodies have been recovered, the news service said.

President Vladimir Putin has been informed of the incident, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. The Russian military is backing forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s civil war.

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