The Russian Defence Ministry said that “no survivors are seen” from the Tu-154 military plane that crashed on Sunday in the Black Sea off the coast of Sochi.
The plane, which was carrying 93 people, including a renowned choir to perform for the holidays at a Russian airbase in Syria, crashed shortly after takeoff, Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in televised comments.
At least four bodies have been recovered from the crash site, with major debris found about 1.5 kilometres from the coast, Konashenkov said.
The Russian military’s most prominent choir, the Alexandrov Ensemble, was travelling to Syria’s coastal region of Latakia to perform at the Khmeimim airbase, Russia’s main base of operations for its military campaign in the Syrian civil war.
The plane was carrying more than 60 musicians, including the choir’s revered conductor, Valery Khalilov, a lieutenant general, and nine journalists, according to a list published on the Defence Ministry’s website.