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MOSCOW, December 29. /TASS/. The main phase of the search operation at the site of the Tupolev-154 crash in the Black Sea is over, Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov told at TASS news conference.
"By now we have completed the main phase of the joint search operation. This does not mean that the search is over. It is going on and will be continued. About 18 ships and other floating vessels remain in this area of the Black Sea. So do some 50 divers and the personnel necessary to monitor the coastline. The search and rescue services of the Russian air transport agency Rosaviatsiya and the federal marine and inland waterways transport agency Rosmorrechflot will be commissioned, if need be," he said.
"The area of the disaster has been thoroughly combed. In the process of the search operation the bodies of nineteen victims have been recovered. Also, 230 fragments of victims’ bodies and 13 large and nearly 2,000 small fragments of the plane have been picked up," Sokolov said.
He recalled that taking part in the operation were 3,500 men and 80 pieces of equipment. Since the moment of the plane’s crash more than 130 square kilometers of the water surface and slightly less than 70 kilometers of the seabed have been examined.
"When it hit the water surface and the seabed, the plane was completely destroyed, which greatly hinders the search. At the moment this work is being conducted with the use of special equipment and manned and unmanned submarines. Divers are involved, too," Sokolov said.
All fragments of human bodies will undergo mandatory DNA tests.
Final conclusions regarding the crash of Russia’s Tu-154 airplane last Sunday over the Black Sea near Sochi will be drawn after the data from recovered flight recorders is deciphered:
"The final conclusions into the cause of this tragedy will be drawn following the decoding of both parametric and voice flight data recorders," Sokolov told a news conference.
"Although some data was already leaked by media, the final conclusions will be definitely drawn following a thorough analysis and all of the required expertise work."
As was reported earlier, two flight recorders of the crashed Tu-154 plane have been found. The basic flight recorder has already been delivered to the Air Force central research institute in the Moscow Region while the second black box was recovered from the Black Sea bed on Wednesday.