SOCHI: Russian rescuers found Monday the first parts of the Syria-bound military plane that plunged into the Black Sea, as officials dismissed terrorism as a possible cause of the crash that killed all 92 people on board.
The Tu-154 jet, whose passengers included more than 60 members of the internationally-renowned Red Army Choir, was heading to Russia’s military base in Syria when it went down off the coast of the resort city of Sochi shortly after take-off on Sunday.
Investigators have yet to confirm the cause of the crash, but officials said that an act of terror was not being considered as a possible explanation, despite the plane and its black boxes still being underwater.
A spokeswoman for the Sochi-based search and rescue branch of the emergency ministry confirmed that parts of the plane had been found underwater.
“The debris is at the depth of 27 metres one mile from shore,” spokeswoman Rimma Chernova told AFP.
The Russian military added that divers had retrieved “two elements of the plane’s control mechanism.”
Authorities have said that the search operation would continue overnight.
Russia’s federal security service said it is looking into four suspected causes of the crash, which do not include terrorism.
“No signs or facts pointing to a possible act of terror have been received at this time,” Russia’s Federal Security Service said in a statement carried by national news agencies.
The probe is focusing on a pilot error, a technical fault, bad fuel and a foreign object in the engine as the four main scenarios, it added.