"A Russian military passenger plane carrying dozens of Red Army Choir singers, dancers and orchestra members plunged into the Black Sea minutes after it took off en route Sunday to a military base in Syria, killing all 92 people on board", Russia's Defense Ministry said.
Officials are yet to find out why the crash took place. Recently, Russia's special Investigative Committee opened a criminal inquiry. They have considered all possibilities on why the crash took place.
"Of course, the entire spectrum and almost any possible causes ... are being probed, but it is premature now to speak about this" as a terrorist act, Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov told reporters in Sochi. It is the same Black Sea resort where the plane had made a refuelling stop.
Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a Russian military spokesman, told reporters that "no one survived after the aging Soviet-era jet, which originally set out from Moscow, crashed shortly a refuelling stop at the airport in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi."
"The area of the crash site has been established," Konashenkov said. "No survivors have been spotted."
Russian news agencies reported that "the plane had not sent a distress signal before disappearing from the radar and that no life rafts had been found by 3,000 people engaged in the recovery. Konashenkov described the captain of the jet as an experienced first-class pilot."
Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking in St. Petersburg on nationally televised comments, announced that December 26 is a national day of mourning. He said, "the cause of the crash would be carefully investigated."
Earlier Sunday, Viktor Ozerov, head of the defence affairs committee in the upper house of Russian parliament, said "in remarks carried by the state news agency RIA Novosti that he "totally excludes" terrorism as a possible cause. The news agency Interfax quoted a law enforcement source as saying that the aircraft took off from a heavily guarded military aerodrome outside Moscow."
"Infiltrating it in order to plant an explosive device on a plane does not appear possible. For its part, the airport in Sochi is a dual-purpose one and has increased security," Interfax quoted the source as saying. "Outsider infiltration by or a staff member bringing unauthorised items is ruled out."
The tragic incident took place soon after a week, ambassador of Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was shot in public by a man who was shouting slogans of war in Syria. The assassination was also captured live on video.
Konashenkov said "the jet, a Tupolev Tu-154 passenger liner built in 1983, last underwent repairs in December 2014 and had since been fully serviced. The remains of the passengers would be brought to Moscow for identification."
BY M. DIVYA SRI