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13 bodies found during Tu-154 search — source

December 28, 2016, 8:23 UTC+3

On Tuesday, the divers pulled another body and 38 body parts from the water

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© Artur Lebedev/TASS

A total of 13 bodies and numerous human remains have been found during the search operation after the Tu-154 plane of Russia’s Defense Ministry crashed in the Black Sea near Sochi, the operation headquarters told TASS.

"A total of 13 bodies have been found, and one person has been identified. Many body parts have been discovered at the scene," the source said.

On Tuesday, the divers pulled another body and 38 body parts from the water. So far, a total of 223 body parts of the victims have been found.

The search teams have discovered more than 1,500 pieces of the Tu-154 plane wreckage at the crash site in the Black Sea, a law enforcement source told TASS. "A total of 1,547 fragments and debris of the plane have been found during the overall search operation, and nearly one third - 567 - have been taken to the surface," the source said.

"The main efforts of the divers now focus on searching the tail section and tail assembly of the plane where the flight data recorders are located. They have not been pulled from the water so far," the source said.

The cockpit voice recorder was earlier discovered and taken to Moscow.

A source close to the investigation earlier told TASS that the decoding of the black box could take up to several weeks depending on the tape’s condition.

A Russian Defense Ministry Tu-154 bound for Syria crashed in the early morning hours of December 25 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 Eve with Russia’s Aerospace Forces at the Hmeymim air base in Syria.

The Executive Director of the Spravedlivaya Pomoshch (Russian for Fair Aid) 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.

Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov, who leads the government commission probing into the crash, said that terrorism was not considered to be a cause of the crash. The Federal Security Service earlier said that investigators were considering a pilot error, a technical fault, bad fuel and a foreign object in the engine as four main possible causes of the crash.


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