Tragedy struck Russia on Christmas after a Russian military plane en route to Syria crashed into the Back Sea, the Associated Press reports. The Tu-154 aircraft reportedly had 92 passengers on board, including the official military choir who were traveling to the Russian Hemeimeem air base in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia for a scheduled New Year’s Eve performance. There was no sign of survivors, according to the Russian defense ministry.
President Vladimir Putin declared Monday a national day of mourning. “First of all, I would like to express my most heartfelt condolences to the families of our citizens killed,” he said in a statement.
While the cause of the crash remains unclear, Putin has instructed his government to investigate what may have caused the plane to disappear from radar just two minutes after it took off. He also promised to “provide support to the families of the victims.”
Also on board were nine Russian journalists, as per the Associated Press. So far, 10 bodies have been recovered from the area around the crash site, along with debris from the plane.
Russia’s transport minister said that investigators are exploring an “entire spectrum” of reasons the plane went down, and while terrorism is certainly a possibility, the Russian government considers it “unlikely,” the BBC reports.
Leaders from around the world, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, offered their condolences to all those affected by the crash, while mourners flocked to the Moscow concert hall where the choir performed to lay flowers and pay their respects to the dead.
Moscow’s cultural community was also left reeling by the sudden loss of the beloved choir. “It’s difficult to grasp the scale of that tragedy,”Alexander Kibovsky, Moscow city’s culture department head said in televised remarks. “They were raising pride for our culture, our country, across the entire world.”
source: complex.com BY DANIEL BARNA