A massive recovery operation is underway after a Russian military plane crashed into the black sea to recover the bodies of 92 passengers, including the famed Red Army Choir members and the head of a popular charity group.
According to CNN, a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry reveals that the plane- a Tupolev -154 - was en route to Syria with 84 passengers and eight crew members on Sunday from the resort city of Sochi in Moscow. The plane was heading for Latakia in Syria, but disappeared from radar two minutes after takeoff.
More than a hundred divers have been activated to conduct round-the - clock search operations around the crash site where more than a dozen bodies and plane debris have already been found. No survivors have been found around the crash site.
Elizaveta Glinka, head of the Russian- based charity group Fair Aid and a famed human rights advocate, was on board the plane, together with Red Army Choir also known as the Alexandrov Ensemble which is the official choir group of the Russian armed forces. Glinka was to bring medicine and supplies to a hospital in Syria.
The choir group was slated to perform before Russian soldiers stationed in Syria for a congratulatory performance for successes that include, among others, the end of the Syrian civil war where many of their soldiers were actively fighting in support of the Syrian regime.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has already issued an order to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to oversee the investigation into the crash. The president also declared Monday as a national day of mourning.
Russian officials believe that the crash may have been caused by a technical malfunction, but point out that it is still too early to tell until a thorough investigation is completed. They also have little reason to believe it was a terror attack.
Weather conditions were relatively normal during the time of the crash. However, the likelihood of a technical problem was highly likely since the Russian military plane model had also been figured in several crash incidents, including one back in 2010 in western Russia where all 96 passengers were killed including Polish President Lech Kaczynski.
The names of the 64 members of the choir, including its director Valery Khalilov have been shown on Russian television stations. People mourning the loss of Russia's beloved choir also offered flowers and tributes at the group's official headquarters in Moscow. Other passengers of the ill-fated flight were soldiers, journalists and a couple of government officials.