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ST. PETERSBURG, December 25. /TASS/. The causes of the Tu-154 plane crash off the Sochi coast will be thoroughly investigated and the victims' families will get all the necessary support, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday.
"A thorough investigation of the crash causes will be carried out and all efforts will be taken to support the families of the victims," Putin told reporters.
"The government has been ordered to set up a commission that will be headed by the transport minister," he added.
The president again offered his condolences to the families of the victims.
The Tu-154 plane from Russia’s Ministry of Defense vanished from radar screens at 05.40 a.m. Moscow time (02.40 a.m. GMT) shortly after taking off from the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
According to the latest information from Russia's Defense Ministry, there were 92 people on board the aircraft, consisting of 8 crew members and 84 passengers. Among them was the Executive Director of the Spravedlivaya Pomoshch (Fair Aid) charity fund, Elizaveta Glinka, also better known to the Russian public as Dr. Liza, as well as servicemen and reporters, including from Channel One, Zvezda and NTV.
The plane was also carrying more than 60 members of the famous Alexandrov ensemble, an official army choir of the Russian armed forces, who set off to celebrate the New Year with the air group of Russia’s Aerospace Forces at the Hmeymim air base in Syria. The choir’s conductor Valery Khalilov was also on the list of passengers.
The Defense Ministry said that debris from the Tu-154 had been found 1.5 km off the coast of Sochi at the depth of 50-70 meters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to set up and head a government commission to look into the Tu-154 plane crash. The Investigative Committee announced that a criminal case was opened based on "the violation of rules of flights safety or preparation for them.".