At the moment, a terrorist act is not the primary reason as to the cause for the crash of the Tu-154 off Sochi’s coast, according to Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov.
During a briefing, Sokolov said that a “technical problem or piloting error” could have led to the tragedy.
“Today, the main theories do not include terrorism, so we assume that either technical problems or a piloting error may have been the cause. But I stress that only an investigation, along with a special technical Ministry of Defense committee will tell us for sure.”
A security source told TASS News Agency that the Tu-154 was initially set to refuel in the city of Mozdok in North Ossetia.
Bad weather redirected the plane to the Black Sea resort airport in Adler. The TASS source said that…
–“nobody knew beforehand that the plane would refuel at the airport in Sochi.”
“Only two border guards and one customs officer came onboard, and only one navigator shortly left the plane to control refueling.”
The Tu-154 transport plane had 92 people on board, including 84 passengers and eight crew members. It went missing over the Black Sea shortly after refueling at an airport near Sochi. Most of the passengers on board were members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, the official choir of the Russian Armed Forces.
They were traveling from Moscow to the Russian military base in Khmeimim near Latakia, Syria, to take part in a Christmas celebration with the troops deployed there. The head of the choir, conductor, and composer Valery Khalilov, was also onboard.
The passenger list released by the Defense Ministry on Saturday also includes Elizaveta Glinka, a revered charity activist and humanitarian worker best known by her nickname “Doctor Liza.”
Some 3,500 people are currently working in three shifts in the rescue operations in the area of the Tu-154 plane crash in Sochi. The first plane transporting the victims’ remains has arrived safely in Moscow at Chkalovsky airport outside the Russian capital on Monday.
Russia is observing a nationwide day of mourning for the victims of the Tu-154 crash on Monday.