The Latest: Russia: Divers find jet fragments in Black Sea

AP News
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Posted: Dec 26, 2016 7:37 AM
The Latest: Russia: Divers find jet fragments in Black Sea

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on the crash of a Russian aircraft with 92 people on board en route to Russia's air base in Syria (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

Russia's emergency situations ministry says divers have recovered fragments of the defense ministry's passenger jet that crashed into the Black Sea.

The ministry said in a statement Monday that divers this afternoon found several fragments of the plane one mile away from the shore and 25 meters (82 feet) under the sea. It says some of the debris has been recovered, and the divers are going back into the water to search for more.

All 92 people onboard the Russian military's Tu-154 plane are believed to have died Sunday morning when the jet crashed two minutes after taking off from the southern city of Sochi en route to Syria. More than 3,500 rescue workers are involved in the operation to find the remains those on board and plane debris.

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2:45 p.m.

Pope Francis has led thousands of faithful in silent prayer for the victims of the Russian military plane crash.

Speaking to thousands of people who gathered Monday in St. Peter's Square to celebrate the feast day of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, Francis expressed his "strong condolences" to the Russian people and to those who lost loved ones in the crash.

He noted that among the dead were members of the Russian army chorus, which he said performed in 2004 at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II.

Francis also asked for prayers for the hundreds of emergency workers helping to search for the plane wreckage and victims in the Black Sea.

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1:55 p.m.

Russia's intelligence agency FSB says it sees no signs of a possible terror plot in Sunday's plane crash over the Black Sea.

All 92 people on the Russian military plane are believed to have died when it crashed two minutes after taking off from the southern city of Sochi. The passengers included dozens of singers in Russia's world-famous military choir, nine Russian journalists and a Russian doctor known for her charity work in war zones.

The FSB said Monday in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies that it "has not found any signs or facts pointing to a possible terror attack or sabotage on board."

The intelligence agency says it is focusing the probe on possibilities including pilot error, low quality of fuel, external objects getting in the engine or an unspecified technical fault.

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12:05 p.m.

The loss of so many talented colleagues is devastating to members of the Russian Defense Ministry choir who did not get on the plane that crashed into the Black Sea.

The choir was on its way to perform a New Year's concert at a Russian air base in Syria when their plane crashed Sunday right after takeoff from Sochi. All 92 people aboard are presumed dead.

Vadim Ananyev, a soloist for the Alexandrov Ensemble, had gotten permission to skip the concert to help his wife as they just had a new baby.

Ananyev tells The Associated Press "I have lost my friends and colleagues, all killed, all five soloists — I feel in complete disarray."

He says "it is such a shame. I have known these people for 30 years. I know their wives and children. I feel terrible for the children and for all that I have lost."

Ananyev says he has received condolences from all over Russia and from abroad.

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11:10 a.m.

People are bringing flowers to the office of the Russian choir whose members have died in a plane crash over the Black Sea as Russia holds a day of mourning.

All 84 passengers and eight crew on the Russian military's Tu-154 plane are believed dead after it crashed shortly after takeoff from the southern Russian city of Sochi. The passengers included dozens of singers in Russia's world-famous military choir, nine Russian journalists and Russian doctor known for her work in war zones.

Red and white carnations have piled up at tables outside the Moscow office of the Alexandrov Ensemble, which was to have performed at a New Year's concert at the Russian base in Syria. Mourners also lit candles and brought flowers to Channel One and NTV, whose TV journalists were going to Syria to cover the concert, and to a charity founded by Dr. Yelizaveta Glinka, who was on the plane bringing medicines to Syria.

Russian TV channels have taken entertainment shows off their programs and outdoor seasonal celebrations have been scrapped across Russia.

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9 a.m. Monday

Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov says a pilot error or a technical fault are likely to blame for Sunday's crash of a Russian Tu-154 carrying 92 passengers and crew. The military plane crashed into the Black Sea on its way from the southern Russian city of Sochi to Syria.

Among its passengers were members of the world-famous Russian army choir who planned to perform at a New Year's concert at the Russian military base in Syria.

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9:55 p.m.

Russian emergency crews are aiming to work all night searching the Black Sea off Sochi for victims and plane debris after a Russian Tu-154 carrying 92 passengers and crew crashed right after takeoff before dawn.

More than 3,000 people — including over 100 divers flown in from across Russia — were working Sunday from 32 ships and several helicopters to search the crash site, the Defense Ministry said. Drones and submersibles were being used to help spot bodies and debris. Powerful spotlights were brought in so the search could go on around the clock.

Emergency crews found fragments of the plane about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) from shore. By Sunday evening, rescue teams had recovered 11 bodies and Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said fragments of other bodies were also found.

The military plane was flying from the southern Russian city of Sochi to Syria. Among its passengers were members of the world-famous Russian army choir who planned to perform at a New Year's concert at the Russian military base in Syria.

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7:15 p.m.

Russia's transport minister says investigators are looking into all possible reasons why a Russian military plane crashed into the Black Sea with 92 people on board, including the option of a terror attack.

Earlier, a Russian official had downplayed any suggestion of a terror attack. But on Sunday afternoon, after being asked if investigators are looking into a possible terror attack, minister Maxim Sokolov said an "entire spectrum" of possible reasons is being considered.

He added it's premature to speculate about the cause of Sunday's crash.

The Tu-154 plane belonging to the Defense Ministry crashed into the Black Sea two minutes after takeoff Sunday morning from the Russian city of Sochi. The plane was heading to Syria, carrying members of the world-famous Russian army choir to a New Year concert at the Russian military base.

All aboard are believed to have died, and so far rescuers have recovered 10 bodies.