The Russian Defense Ministry’s Tu-154 aircraft with 91 people onboard, including 83 passengers and eight crew members, crashed in the Black Sea on Sunday.
The plane disappeared from radars 20 minutes after departing from the city of Sochi in the Russian region of Krasnodar. The plane was heading to the Hmeimim airbase in Syria.
The Russian state-run news agency “Sputniknews“:
Journalists, military personnel, musicians from Alexandrov Ensemble, an official army choir of the Russian armed forces, were onboard.
“According to preliminary findings, the missing TU-154 arrived in Sochi from Chkalovsky airport in Moscow region for refueling. Most likely, it crashed in mountainous area of Krasnodar Territory,” the source told RIA Novosti.
The priliminary data shows that the disappeared plane was heading to Syria’s Hmeimim airbase. According to the source, the possible reasons for the alleged crash could be technical malfunction or pilot error.
Another Russia’s media outlet ‘RT’ provides more info about the passenger list:
Most of the passengers on board were members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, the official choir of the Russian Armed Forces, the Russian Defense Ministry said. They were travelling from Moscow to the Russian military base Khmeimim near Latakia, Syria to take part in a Christmas celebration with troops deployed there. The head of the choir, conductor and composer Valery Khalilov, is among the 64 members of the ensemble presumed dead in the accident.
Crews from Channel One Russia, NTV, and Zvezda (the official media outlet of the Russian Defense Ministry), each with three members, were on board as well, the outlets confirmed.
The passenger list released by the defense ministry also includes Elizaveta Glinka, a prominent charity activist and humanitarian worker. She is best known by her blogger nickname “Doctor Liza.” Some reports initially said she may have deplaned in Sochi, but the Presidential Council for Human Rights confirmed that she was on board.
Glinka was best known for aiding children with serious conditions like cancer, homeless people, and other vulnerable individuals. In the past few years, she organized humanitarian missions to conflict zones, including eastern Ukraine and Syria. For her efforts, she was awarded the Order of Friendship in 2012, the fifth highest state award in Russia.
Footage of the search operation: