Sunday, December 25, 2016

Tupolev 154B-2, Russian Air Force, RA-85572: Fatal accident occurred December 25, 2016 in Black Sea near Sochi

This is the first picture of pilot Roman Volkov, 35, who was at the controls of the Russian military Tu-154 when it crashed into the Black Sea.

The Kremlin says the experienced pilot could have been to blame for the deadly crash.

Friends said the father-of-three lived for his job and had flown to Syria many times before.

Wreckage suspected to be from the crashed aircraft is pictured on board a rescue boat.

This is the last known photograph of the doomed Tupolev 154B-2 plane, pictured at a Moscow airport before it left for Sochi.

Rescuers unload fragments and remains from a boat, found at the site of the Tupolev 154B-2 plane crash near Sochi, Russia, December 25, 2016

The Wall Street Journal 
December  26, 2016 5:46 a.m. ET

MOSCOW—Russia’s transportation minister Maxim Sokolov on Monday ruled out a terrorist attack as the likely cause of the crash of a Russian military plane in southern Russia that killed 92 people.

“As far as we know, an attack is not one of the main possibilities for the catastrophe,” Mr. Sokolov said. “We’re looking into either the technical condition [of the plane] or a pilot error.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to oversee a commission to investigate the causes of the crash of the Tu-154 passenger jet, which went down Sunday in the Black Sea not far from the city of Sochi. The crash claimed the lives of over 60 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, an official army performing group that was flying to Syria to entertain Russian troops.

Mr. Sokolov said aviation experts and the Investigative Committee, Russia’s main investigative body, would continue to probe the causes of the disaster. The transportation minister reported the first findings of the commission investigating the crash to Mr. Medvedev on Monday.

Russia on Monday observed an official day of mourning, with residents of Moscow and other cities leaving flowers at impromptu memorials to commemorate the victims.

Recovery operations were still under way, with parts of the plane’s fuselage submerged underwater. Pavel Popov, a Russian deputy defense minister, said 11 bodies and 154 fragments of the plane were recovered in the first 24 hours of the recovery operation.

The Russian military said 45 ships, five helicopters and drones were taking part in the operation.

“I think today is the day when we will be able to to locate the plane at the bottom of the Black Sea,” Viktor Bondarev, chief commander of Russian Aerospace forces, said Monday, according to the news agency Interfax.

Mr. Bondarev said that the plane’s flight recorder or “black box” was located in the tail of the plane and likely intact, as it appeared the plane hit the water with the bottom of its fuselage, Interfax said.

The majority of the bodies are likely still inside the plane, said Veniamin Kondratyev, the governor of the region where the crash happened.

On Monday Moscow medical examiners began collecting samples from the families of the victims for genetic testing to identify crash victims, Interfax reported.

The loss of the members of the popular military ensemble, known outside Russia as the Red Army Choir, prompted an emotional outpouring. The defense ministry ordered that the Moscow military music academy be named after Lt. Gen. Valery Khalilov, who headed the Alexandrov Ensemble and who died in the crash.

Yelizaveta Glinka, a renowned Russian doctor and philanthropist known as Dr. Liza, was also on board the aircraft. The mayor of Yekaterinburg proposed that a palliative care unit of a local hospital be named after her.

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