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Source says search team finds fragments of presumably Tu-154 wreckage mile from sea shore

December 26, 2016, 13:15 UTC+3

The Russian Defense Ministry has increased the group of unmanned aerial vehicles in the Tu-154 search area, the ministry’s press service said

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© Artur Lebedev/TASS

MOSCOW, December 26. /TASS/. A search team of Russia’s Emergencies Ministry has found the debris of presumably the Tupolev Tu-154 plane wreckage a mile from the shore of the Black Sea, sources in local emergencies services told TASS on Monday.

"A group of divers of Russia’s Emergencies has found debris on the Black Sea bed a mile from the sea shore on a stretch of 400 meters at a depth of 25 meters," the source said.

According to the source, some fragments have already been brought to the surface.

Search groups, including divers, are now coming to the discovery area.

According to the source, divers of Russia’s Emergencies Ministry are now making a repeat submersion.

"There are a lot of small items and actually no large objects on the sea bed," the source said.

Russia has declared December 26 a day of national mourning over the plane crash victims.

Defense ministry boosting search efforts 

"The group of the Defense Ministry’s unmanned aviation has been increased. Two more Granat-4 unmanned aerial vehicles have begun monitoring the sea’s surface, which made it possible to continuously observe all search areas," Defense Ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, said.

Meanwhile, an Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft operated by the Russian Defense Ministry has delivered two manned deep-sea submersibles to the search area of operations, the ministry’s press service added.

"The Il-76 aircraft that delivered two manned deep-sea submersibles of the Russian Geographical Society equipped with manipulators for complex deep-sea functions has landed at Sochi’s Adler airport," the ministry said.

A Russian Defense Ministry Tu-154 bound for Syria vanished from radars at 05.40 a.m. Moscow time (02.40 a.m. GMT) shortly after taking off from Sochi. There were 92 people on board the aircraft, including eight crew members and 84 passengers. Among them were journalists, servicemen and musicians from the world-renowned Alexandrov ensemble, the official choir of the Russian armed forces, who set off to celebrate New Year’s Еve with Russia’s Aerospace Forces at the Hmeymim air base in Syria. The Executive Director of the ESpravedlivaya Pomoshch (Russian for Fair Aid or Fair Help) charity fund Elizaveta Glinka, known to the Russian public as Dr. Liza, was also on board the flight.

The Defense Ministry said that debris from the Tu-154 aircraft was found 1.5 km off the coast of Sochi at a depth of 50-70 meters. Thanks to intensive efforts by search and rescue teams, 11 bodies have been recovered so far.

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