ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La Russie pleure les disparus de la mer Noire
Translated Thursday 9 February 2017, by
Russia observed a day of mourning on Monday, the day after a plane crash that caused the deaths of 92 people in the Black Sea. Search operations continued in an effort to locate the bodies of those inside the plane, as well as the black box.
On Monday, flags were flown at half-mast throughout the country, and wreaths were placed at the airport in Sochi and at the Moscow offices of the Russian army’s musical troupe, the Alexandrov Ensemble. It was the day after the crash of a Tupolev-154 belonging to the Russian Ministry of Defense. On board the plane were around 60 singers, dancers and musicians, members of the Alexandrov Ensemble who were headed to Syria to perform for the Russian troops as part of their New Year’s celebration.
Nine Russian journalists were also on board, along with several servicemen and Elizaveta Glinka, a well-known member of the Russian Presidential Council on Human Rights.
Eleven bodies have been recovered so far. A team of 3,500 searchers has been mobilized, and sea and air search operations are ongoing. Forty-five ships, five helicopters, drones, and over 100 divers are part of the effort. Divers and submersible craft are exploring the depths 1.5 km off the coast of Sochi, the southern Russian city where the plane took off Sunday morning. The RIA news agency reports that four small pieces of the fuselage have been discovered at a depth of 27 meters, but strong currents and shoals are hindering search efforts.
Minister for Transportation Maksim Sokolov spoke with the press Monday, stating that the most likely causes of the tragedy were human error or a technical failure. The Kremlin emphasized that the accident was unlikely to be an act of terrorism. Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, has stated that it is investigating four theories: a foreign object lodged in the engine; poor fuel quality leading to engine failure; an error on the part of the pilot; or technical failure of the airplane itself, built in 1983.