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Friday 24 January 2020

Russia plays down terror angle in plane crash

SOCHI, Russia: Russian authorities have claimed that the possibility of a terror attack being responsible for the crash of the Syria-bound Tu-154 killing 92 people is remote.

Russia’s main domestic security and counter-terrorism agency, the FSB said it has found “no indications or facts pointing at the possibility of a terror attack or an act of sabotage on board the plane.”

However some aviation experts point out that the lack of communication from the crew indicating any technical fault and the wide area over which the wreckage was found scattered point towards a possible explosion inside the plane. More than 1,500 plane fragments from the Tu-154 passenger jet have been found at the crash site in the Black Sea, a source in Russia’s security services told TASS. Rescuers have discovered 13 bodies and 223 body parts so far, as a massive search operation involving 3,500 people, 43 ships and 182 divers are underway. Russia is reported to have grounded its entire fleet of Tu-154 planes pending the completion of this crash investigation.

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Residents of Sochi adding to a makeshift memorial for those killed in the crash

The Tu-154, a Soviet-built three-engine airliner designed in the late 1960s and owned by the Russian Defense Ministry crashed into the Black Sea early Sunday 2 minutes after taking off in good weather from the city of Sochi. According to an eyewitness account of the crash published by TASS, the flight took off from Adler airport and started drifting down to the sea’s surface instead of gaining altitude as if it was intending to land. But its nose was strangely turned upwards and within minutes it hit the water and went under the sea.

Among the passengers were singers from Russia’s famous Red Army Choir who were heading to a Russian base in Syria to perform at the New Year’s concert.

Of the three black boxes recovered by divers, one appears to have been damaged while the other two are in satisfactory condition. They have been send to Moscow for analysis.

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