SOCHI, December 26. /TASS/. The search and rescue services have identified the projected point of impact by the Defense Ministry’s Tu-154 on the surface of the Black Sea, a source in the emergency response center informed TASS on Monday.
"The projected site of the collision has been established, large parts of the aircraft’s fuselage may be located there," the source said.
According to the source, this place is located in the Black Sea some six kilometers from the runway.
He noted that more than 30 vessels are currently involved in the search and rescue operation. The area being combed over in great detail has been divided into sections, with high-tech equipment being used to examine the topography of the surface and the seabed at the crash site.
Part of the remains of those killed in the Tu-154 crash may be beyond the border with neighboring countries, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov, who leads the government commission probing into the crash, said on Monday.
"Yesterday, I got in touch with the president and prime minister of the Republic of Abkhazia, as the stream from the supposed crash site is directed towards the state border, and presumably part of the fragments may cross the border," Sokolov told a meeting of the commission broadcast live by the Rossiya 24 TV channel. "That is why our Abkhaz counterparts are ready to use their search means as part of this search and rescue operation."
The Russian Defense Ministry’s Tu-154 plane disappeared from radar screens at 05.40 am Moscow time (02.40 am GMT) shortly after taking off from the Black Sea resort of Sochi in the small hours of Sunday morning.
There were 92 people on board the aircraft, including eight crew members. Among the passengers was Executive Director of the Spravedlivaya Pomoshch (Fair Aid) charity fund, Elizaveta Glinka, better known to the Russian public as Dr. Liza, as well as military servicemen and nine reporters from Russia's Channel One, Zvezda and NTV networks. The plane was also carrying 68 members of the world-renowned Alexandrov Ensemble, an official army choir of the Russian Armed Forces. The ensemble was on its way to celebrate the New Year with the group of Russia’s Aerospace Forces at the Hmeymim air base in Syria.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that fragments from the Tu-154 disaster had been discovered some 1.5 kilometers off the coast of Sochi at depths of 50-70 meters. Eleven bodies have been found so far, no one has survived. A large-scale search and rescue operation is currently underway.