Main black box of crashed Russian plane found in Black Sea

Russia has also grounded all Tupolev-154 planes until it understands why one of the ageing Soviet planes crashed

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 10:20pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 10:20pm

Rescue workers have found a flight recorder from the Russian plane that crashed into the Black Sea over the weekend, the defence ministry said.

All 92 people on board the Russian military’s Tu-154 plane are believed to have died on Sunday morning when it crashed two minutes after taking off from the southern Russian city of Sochi. The 84 passengers included dozens of singers from Russia’s world-famous military choir who were going to the Russian Air Force base in Syria to perform at a New Year’s concert.

Russia has grounded all Tupolev-154 planes until it understands why one of the ageing Soviet planes crashed, the Interfax news agency cited an unnamed source as saying yesterday.

The defence ministry said one of the flight recorders was found early yesterday about a kilometre away from the shore.

Television showed footage of rescue workers on an inflatable boat carrying a container with a bright orange object submerged in water. The ministry said the “black box” would be flown to Moscow. It did not mention whether any damage had been done to the flight recorder.

About 3,500 people, 45 ships and 192 divers have been sweeping a vast crash site for bodies of the victims and debris, and dozens of drones and several submersibles also have been involved in the search. Rescue teams so far have recovered 12 bodies and numerous body fragments, which have been flown to Moscow for identification.

Officials still have not announced the cause of the plane crash, but they have been anxious to quash speculation that it might have been caused by a bomb planted on board or a missile.

But 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 at a possible explosion on board.

Russia’s shock over the military plane clash that killed 92 people became all the more acute when it became known that Yelizaveta Glinka, a renowned doctor and charity worker, was on the doomed flight’s passenger list.

The diminutive 54-year-old woman, affectionately known as “Dr Liza”, was on a mission to deliver medication to a university hospital in the city of Latakia.

Since the crash, Muscovites have been laying flowers and candles in front of the headquarters of Fair Aid, the charity she founded in 2007 to care for the homeless, terminally-ill patients and abandoned pensioners in Russia.

Glinka’s death sparked a national outpouring of grief that spanned the political spectrum, with the defence ministry, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and the opposition-friendly mayor of Yekaterinburg pledging to name a medical facility after her.

When fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists erupted in eastern Ukraine in 2014, Glinka – who was also a member of the Kremlin’s human rights council – travelled to the war zone to provide emergency care to injured children. She had travelled to Syria ­earlier this year where she visited a local hospital and saw it was ­severely lacking in medicine.

Additional reporting by Associated Press, Reuters