Search goes on for Russian plane crash victims, 12 bodies found
Russia continues to conduct search operations to find the remaining bodies of the victims of a plane crash in the Black Sea.
Officials say 12 bodies have so far been found in the crash site, a multi-kilometer area that sprawls on the coast of the Black Sea in Khosta, a suburb of the city of Sochi.
A total of 92 people were on board the Tu-154 plane, which lost contact with air traffic control and crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday.
Rescue operations would continue through Sunday night and afterwards, according to Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Major-General Igor Konashenkov.
“With the onset of night time, operation is still in non-stop mode and will continue around the clock. Ships have high power lights, visual inspection of the shoreline is carried out by units of the Southern Military District to detect any items associated with the crash,” Konashenkov said.
He said additional rescue support forces would also arrive at the crash site, in the form of ships, divers, and helicopters to reinforce the rescue and search groups.
The cause of the crash
Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov said on Monday that authorities did not believe a terrorist attack was to be blame for the crash.
“There could be various causes; they are being analyzed by specialists, experts, the Investigative Committee,” he said in a televised briefing on Monday, enumerating active theories such as human error and technical problems.
“Currently,” he said, however, “the main versions do not include an act of terror.”
Meanwhile, mourners have been laying flowers and lighting candles at a vigil on the Grafskaya Pier in Sevastopol and elsewhere, including in Moscow, to commemorate the victims of the tragedy.
The Tu-154 aircraft was bound for Hmeimim airbase, in Syria’s Latakia Province. Among its passengers were journalists, servicemen, and the official army choir of the Russian armed forces, who were due to take part in a Christmas ceremony.
No survivors have been found in the search operations so far and all the 92 passengers are presumed dead.
President Vladimir Putin has declared Monday a day of national mourning and ordered a probe into the crash.