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World leaders react to Tu-154 plane crash off Sochi coast

December 25, 2016, 15:35 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The plane was also carrying more than 60 members of the famous Alexandrov ensemble, an official army choir of the Russian armed forces

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© EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

MOSCOW, December 25. /TASS/. Monday is declared the day of national mourning in Russia. 

'Our hearts are now with the families and relatives of the victims'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has sent condolences to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Tu-154 plane crash in the Black Sea near Sochi, deputy government spokesperson Ulrike Demmer said.

"In her thoughts she [Merkel] is with the relatives of those dead," the spokesperson said.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also offered condolences to the families of the victims. "I have deep sorrow over the news about the crash of the Russian military plane with the large army choir onboard," he said.

"I hope that survivors will be found and rescued," he added. "Our hearts are now with the families and relatives of victims of this awful tragedy."

'Friends of Syria were onboard' 

Syrian President Bashar Assad has expressed condolences to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Tu-154 plane crash over the Black Sea, the SANA news agency reported.

"To our great regret, we received the news about the crash of Russia’s Tu-154. Our friends were onboard that plane who were planning to share with us and the people of Aleppo the joy of victory and holidays," the Syrian leader said in a telegram to the Russian president. 

'We were shocker to hear about this tragedy' 

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has visited Russia’s embassy in Serbia to offer his condolences to Russian Ambassador Alexander Chepurin over the crash of the Russian Tu-154 plane crash in the Black Sea.

"On this difficult day filled with sorrow for the entire Russian people, I would like to say that Serbian citizens are condoling with you and that we will always remember the magnificent concerts of the famous Alexandrov ensemble and all other our friends who died in this catastrophe," Vucic said.

Vucic was accompanies by Ministers Nebojsa Stefanovic of Internal Affairs and Zoran Djordjevic of Defence.

Apart from that, Vucic sent telegrams of condolences to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. "We were shocked to learn about the crash of the Russian plane. It is difficult to find words of condolences but we will always keep the memory of their desire to give joy by their music to the servicemen who have to spend the holidays far from their families," the Serbian agency said citing the message.

A 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), two minutes after taking off from the airport of Adler, Sochi, where it was refueled.

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 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.

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