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Several thousand personnel involved in search operation at Tu-154 crash site

December 28, 2016, 11:37 UTC+3 SOCHI

Over 500 pieces of equipment are also involved in the operation

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© Artur Lebedev/TASS

SOCHI, December 28. /TASS/. More than 3,600 people and over 500 pieces of equipment are taking part in the search effort at the crash site of the Tu-154 plane of Russia’s Defense Ministry near the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

Those participating include the personnel of the Emergencies Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya), the Federal Maritime and River Transport Agency, the Border Service of the Federal Security Service (FSB), law enforcement officials and authorities of the Krasnodar Territory in southern Russia.

Divers have conducted more than 30 searches at the bottom of the Black Sea over the past 24 hours and retrieved some wreckage of the plane, including large fragments of the fuselage, the press service of the Southern regional search and rescue unit of Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said.

So far, 45 vessels involved in the operation have searched more than 100 square kilometers of the Black Sea waters. The air group involved in the operation includes 15 aircraft, 16 helicopters and drones. The aircraft have searched over 240 square kilometers. In addition, search teams on the ground conduct patrol missions on the coast.

A Russian Defense Ministry Tu-154 plane 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.

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