Missing Russian military plane with 90 onboard crashes over black Sea

A Russian woman holds a candle in memory of victims of the Defence Ministry's Tu-154 plane crash near Sochi Russia 25 December 2016

A Russian woman holds a candle in memory of victims of the Defence Ministry's Tu-154 plane crash near Sochi Russia 25 December 2016

A Russian military plane carrying about 91 people has disappeared from the radar shortly after taking off from the Russian city of Sochi, reports said. Official Russian sources say the plane crashed into the Black Sea 20 minutes after takeoff, probably as a result of a technical fault or pilot error. The plane was on its way to a Russian airbase in Syria from the resort town of Sochi.

A total of 83 passengers and eight crew were on board when the plane dropped off radar early Sunday.

The plane was on its way to Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia when it crashed.

The plane was carrying 82 passengers and 10 crew members, Interfax news agency reported.

Russia plane

The base they were heading for, Hmeymim, is in Latakia province, from where Russian Federation flies air strikes against Syrian rebels. The Alexandrov Ensemble is the official choir of the Russian military, and also includes a band and a dance company. However, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov later said the "entire spectrum" of reasons were being investigated, including the option of a terrorist attack.

The Tu-154 is a three-engine medium-range airliner produced by Russian aerospace and defense company Tupolev.

President Vladimir Putin has sent his condolences to the families and friends of the TU-154 crash in the Black Sea near Sochi, Russia. There have been around four dozen fatal accidents involving the Tu-154 aircraft, which was designed in the 1960s.

Russia's Defence Ministry regularly flies musicians into Syria to put on concerts for military personnel.

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