A Russian defence force Tu-154 aircraft carrying 91 people has disappeared from radar over the Black Sea, multiple reports have said.
The Russian defence ministry said that the plane carrying musicians from the famous Alexandrov military choir to a New Year concert for troops in Syria went missing soon after taking off from the resort of Sochi this morning.
A total of 83 passengers and eight crew were on board when the plane dropped off radar early Sunday. Emergency services are searching for the plane, a Soviet-designed three-engine airliner, the ministry said.
Russia’s RIA news agency, citing an unidentified security source, said preliminary data indicated the plane had crashed because of a technical malfunction, Reuters reported.
Those on board included Russian servicemen and artists from the Russian military’s official choir, the Alexandrov Ensemble, who were on their way to celebrate the upcoming New Year with air force personnel at the Latakia air base in western Syria, the defence source told RIA. Nine Russian journalists were also on board, it said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies that Vladimir Putin had been informed of the situation and was being kept abreast of the search operations.