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Rescuers find black box from Russian military jet that crashed in the Black Sea killing all 92 on board as 12 bodies are recovered
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Rescuers have recovered the black box from a Russian military jet that crashed in the Black Sea killing all 92 on board, it has emerged.
The flight recorder was found near the crash site off the coast of the resort city of Sochi as 12 bodies and 156 plane fragments were recovered from the sea.
It comes as Russia grounded all of its other Tupolev-154 planes until experts work out why one of the ageing Soviet planes crashed down on Sunday.
Russia's defence ministry said the black box was found early in the morning, about a mile from shore and 50ft below the surface and will now be flown to the capital to be deciphered by investigators.
The flight recorder was found near the crash site off the coast of the resort city of Sochi as 12 more bodies and 156 plane fragments were recovered from the sea. Rescuers are pictured working at the scene this morning
Russia has grounded all Tupolev-154 planes until experts work out why one of the ageing Soviet planes crashed down on Sunday
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 minutes after take-off on Sunday
State television showed footage of rescue workers on an inflatable boat carrying a container with a bright orange object submerged in water.
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 minutes after take-off on Sunday.
Divers found fragments of the fuselage, parts of the engine and various mechanical parts at night, the defence ministry said.
Officials have not announced the cause of the plane crash, but they have been anxious to end speculation that it might have been caused by a bomb on board or a portable air defence missile.
The first pictures have emerged of Roman Volkov, pictured, who is being blamed for the Sochi air disaster that claimed the lives for 92 people
Pilot Mr Volkov (pictured) holds the rank 'pilot first class' and is the son of Colonel Alexander Volkov, a distinguished military pilot
Divers found fragments of the fuselage, parts of the engine and various mechanical parts at night, the defence ministry said
Some aviation experts have noted that the crew's failure to communicate any technical problem, and a large area over which fragments of the plane were scattered, point to a possible explosion on board.
Russia's federal security service said on Monday that it was focusing on pilot error, a technical fault, bad fuel and a foreign object in the engine as the four main scenarios that could explain the crash.
TU-154 AIRCRAFT ACCIDENTS
Tu-154 aircraft have been involved in a number of accidents in the past.
In April 2010 many high-ranking Polish officials, including then president Lech Kaczynski, were killed when a Tu-154 airliner went down in thick fog while approaching the Smolensk airport in western Russia.
A Tu-154, operated by Siberian Airlines, was shot down over the Black Sea in October 2001, killing 78 people.
The plane was travelling from Tel Aviv in Israel to Novosibirsk in Russia, and most of the passengers were Israeli.
Yesterday, the first pictures emerged of pilot Roman Volkov, 35, who is being blamed for the disaster.
His remains were pulled out of the water last night along with fragments of 70 other bodies, according to law enforcement sources.
Even before the black boxes were retrieved from the sea, the experienced airman was being blamed for an error that caused the crash.
Russia's transport minister Maxim Sokolov said the Kremlin was not investigating terrorism as a cause of the crash.
This is despite aviation experts claiming without evidence from the military Tu-154 plane, a terror attack could still be plausible.
They pointed to the crew's failure to report any malfunction and the fact that plane debris was scattered over a wide area.
'Possible malfunctions ... certainly wouldn't have prevented the crew from reporting them,' Vitaly Andreyev, a former senior Russian air traffic controller, told RIA Novosti.
Rescue workers take part in a search and rescue operation at the crash site of a Russian Defense Ministry plane
Yesterday there were angry denials that some passengers had been wearing life jackets as the plane crashed down.
Russian Defence Ministry said: 'All rumours citing anonymous sources saying that passengers of the Tu-154 jet that crashed were allegedly wearing life vests are shameful insinuations and absolutely inconsistent with the reality.'
Debris including bodies of the victims were in the water on mile from the shore at a depth of 89 feet, said officials.
Divers had retrieved 'two elements of the plane's control mechanism', said law enforcement officials without elaborating.
'No signs or facts pointing to a possible act of terror have been received at this time,' said the FSB security service.
Pilot Mr Volkov holds the rank 'pilot first class' and is the son of Colonel Alexander Volkov, a distinguished military pilot.
He graduated Balashov Higher Military Aviation School.
Floral tributes in front of portraits of the Russian TV journalists who died in the plane crash
Fragments of the aircraft were found about one mile from the Black Sea coast of Sochi
Rescue workers push a cart with remains of the military plane which crashed in the Black Sea
THE RED ARMY CHOIR
The Alexandrov Ensemble is the official choir of the Russian military, and it also includes a band and a dancing company.
It was founded in 1928 during the Soviet era. It has for decades showcased its repertoire of famed Russian folksongs and spiritual music on the global stage.
During the Cold War period, when the USSR and the West were locked in a nuclear standoff, the group was one of the rare Soviet ensembles to tour beyond the Eastern bloc, playing a prominent role in the Kremlin's attempts to portray itself to the rest of the world.
It takes its name from its first director, Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov, who wrote the music to the national anthem of the Soviet Union.
The ensemble consists of between 100 and 120 members depending on the type of performance given.
Since their performance at the airbase in Syria was going to be mostly a cappella, only the choir and a handful dancers were aboard the plane, Russian media reported.
He and his wife Elena had three children and lived in Schelkov, Moscow region.
His friend, Anna Saranina said today: 'Roman literally lived in the sky.
'There was no other interest for him.
'When we last met, he told me that lately he often flew to Syria - a lot of flights.
'He did not say more - military secrets. He was not afraid to fly, no premonitions.
'He just did his duty.'
Passengers on board the plane included dozens of singers in Russia's famous military choir, nine Russian journalists and a Russian doctor known for her charity work in war zones.
Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said in televised remarks on Monday that terrorism was not among the main theories, and that authorities were looking into a possible technical fault or a pilot error.
Ralina Gilmanova, 22, and her fiancé Mikhail, who were members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, were on the flight that crashed in the Black Sea
The young couple, both in the choir, were engaged last year and due to marry 'soon'
Ekaterina Korzanov, a dancer in the Red Army Choir, died in the crash, along with her partner
Daria Trofimova, one of the 64 people in the Red Army choir who was killed in the plane crash
Lilia Pyryeva, a member of the Alexandrov Ensemble, who died in the Christmas Day crash