Russia mounted an expansive search-and-recovery operation in the Black Sea on Monday for the victims and the fuselage of a military passenger plane that crashed a day earlier, killing all 92 people on board, including dozens of members of a storied army choir.
The most likely area where the plane plunged into the water moments after taking off from the southwestern resort city of Sochi has been identified, Lt. Gen. Viktor N. Bondarev, commander of the Russian air force, said at an early morning news conference at the airport.
General Bondarev said that he did not expect the plane’s fin, where the flight recorders are situated, to be as damaged as the fuselage, raising hopes that the recorders might be intact. A large chunk of the fuselage was located Monday on the seabed about a mile offshore, initially by sonar and then by divers, the Ministry of Emergency Situations announced.
The transportation minister, Maxim Sokolov, who is leading a commission looking into the crash, said that terrorism had not been ruled out, but that it was unlikely to be the cause of the crash of the Tupolev 154, which was flying members of the choir and others to Syria for a New Year’s Eve concert for troops stationed at an air base near Latakia.