Members of the Alexandrov Ensemble performing in Paris in 2015 (Getty Images)
К российскому народу: искренние соболезнования
IT'S THE SECOND CRASH OF MILITARY AIRCRAFT WITHIN RUSSIA IN A WEEK.
THIS TIME A TUPOLEV-154 AIRPLANE WITH THE FAMED ALEXANDROV MILITARY BAND AND THREE TEAMS OF JOURNALISTS ABOARD CRASHED SHORTLY AFTER TAKEOFF FROM THE BLACK SEA RESORT OF SOCHI.
THE PLANE AND PASSENGERS WERE HEADED FOR SYRIA FOR A NEW YEAR'S CELEBRATION.
RUSSIA TODAY NEWS REPORTS 83 PASSENGERS AND 8 CREW MEMBERS LOST.
THE PLANE WAS ASCENDING WHEN RADAR CONTACT WAS LOST BUT THE PILOT REPORTED NO PROBLEM.
[NOTE: BOTH REUTERS AND THE BBC HAVE NOW REPORTED 92 ABOARD.]
"Fragments of the Tu-154 plane of the Russian defence ministry were found 1.5 kilometres from the Black Sea coast of the city of Sochi at a depth of 50 to 70 metres," the ministry said.
Russia's news agency RIA, citing an unidentified security source, said preliminary data indicated the plane had crashed because of a technical malfunction."
"Zvezda TV channel said three of its staff were on board the crashed Tu-154 transport plane. Channel One said it also had three people on the plane: "Dmitry Runkov, correspondent, Vadim Denisov, cameraman, and sound engineer Aleksandr Soydov were on board of the plane," PR director Larisa Krymova has said, also confirming that the journalists were flying to Syria.
Early reports mentioned nine journalists on board the plane, and it was not immediately clear which outlet had sent the third team.
The Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case into the Tu-154 crash, according to article 351, “Failure to comply with the rules of flight security and preparation,” TASS reports, citing Investigative Committee representative Svetlana Petrenko.
THE BBC JUST REPORTED THAT THERE WERE 92 ON BOARD.
"The defence ministry said in a statement: "Fragments of the Tu-154 plane of the Russian defence ministry were found 1.5km (one mile) from the Black Sea coast of the city of Sochi at a depth of 50 to 70 metres."
Reports in the area said flying conditions were favourable.
An investigation has been launched to determine whether any violations of air transport safety regulations had taken place.
The Tu-154 has been involved in dozens of fatal incidents since it was designed in the mid-1960s. It was the workhorse of Soviet and Russian airlines for decades, but only about 50 aircraft are now in service worldwide.
Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said the plane was carrying passengers to a New Year's performance for Russian troops deployed in Syria.
The performance was scheduled to take place at Russia's Hmeimim air base, near Latakia.
Alexandrov Ensemble is the official choir of the Russian armed forces, founded in 1928 during the
The group also includes an orchestra and dancers.
It takes its name from its first director, Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov, who wrote the music to the national anthem of the Soviet Union."
SIBERIAN CRASH, DEC. 19
ON DECEMBER 19, A RUSSIAN MILITARY Il-18 AIRCRAFT CRASHED IN SIBERIA WITH 39 ABOARD, SERIOUSLY INJURING 16 AND SENDING 23 TO HOSPITAL.
AT THE TIME OF THAT CRASH, THREE SOLDIERS WERE REPORTED IN "GRAVE CONDITION".
AS THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTED:
"The Ilyushin-18 plane — a propeller craft from the Soviet era that is still sometimes used in military operations — took off from Kansk air base, about 1,430 miles southwest of Tiksi, according to Sputnik.
A source in the defense ministry told Interfax that the plane had not given a distress signal and that the flight took place in harsh weather conditions that could have led to icing of the plane.
TASS said three rescue helicopters had been sent to the crash site, about 18 miles from Tiksi, and an investigation was underway.
The accident occurred in Siberia’s Yakutia region. The crash site is so remote it is closer to Anchorage, Alaska, than to Moscow."
THIS WAS LATER UPDATED BY REUTERS TO 32 INJURED, BUT NO DEATHS HAVE BEEN ATTRIBUTED TO THE CRASH SO FAR.
SINCERE CONDOLENCES TO ALL WHO LOST LOVED ONES TODAY.
WHEN OUR HEARTS ARE ON THE GROUND FROM GRIEF AND LOSS, NO WORDS CAN BRING COMFORT.
WE REMEMBER WITH LOVE THOSE WHO HAVE LEFT US.