Teams investigating the loss of a Russian Tu-154 aircraft said Wednesday that they had found at least two flight recorders from the wreckage of the Christmas Day crash into the Black Sea, which killed all 92 people aboard.

The Russian Defense Ministry said a second recorder had been found and analysis of its data had begun. The ministry also said 15 bodies had been found at the crash site, as well as hundreds of body fragments.

The military passenger plane crashed early Sunday, two minutes after takeoff in good weather from the city of Sochi. It was carrying 68 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, a famous military choir, orchestra and dance group that was to give a New Year’s performance for Russian airmen at the military base near Latakia.

Teams investigating the loss of a Russian Tu-154 aircraft said Wednesday that they had found at least two flight recorders from the wreckage of the Christmas Day crash into the Black Sea, which killed all 92 people aboard.

The Russian Defense Ministry said a second recorder had been found and analysis of its data had begun. The ministry also said 15 bodies had been found at the crash site, as well as hundreds of body fragments.

The military passenger plane crashed early Sunday, two minutes after takeoff in good weather from the city of Sochi. It was carrying 68 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, a famous military choir, orchestra and dance group that was to give a New Year’s performance for Russian airmen at the military base near Latakia.

Also Wednesday, the Defense Ministry condemned the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo for publishing cartoons making fun of the crash. Charlie Hebdo has been targeted by at least two terrorist attacks, in 2011 and 2015, presumably in connection with material it published.

Older model

On Monday, the Emergency Situations Ministry reported 45 ships and 135 divers from across Russia had found parts of the jet about 1.5 kilometers from shore and 25 meters under the sea.

Russian media reports speculated on possible causes of the crash, such as a technical problem, human error or excessive weight.

“The Tu-154 has not been manufactured for quite a while and the Ministry of Defense was practically the only user of the aircraft,” said Maxim Pyadushkin, managing director of Air Transport Observer magazine. “But the Defense Ministry stated that it had passed through the capital maintenance. That means its condition was under control. We can’t so far state whether there were some technical issues. The results of the investigation will show.”

Effect of Syrian intervention

While Russian officials downplay the possibility of a terrorist attack, there are concerns that Russia’s intervention in Syria has made it more of a target for extremists.

Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was assassinated December 20 in Ankara by a police officer apparently motivated by the Russia-backed assault on Aleppo by Syrian forces.

Russia has defended its backing of Syrian forces as a fight against terrorism, while critics say rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were the main target.

Some Russian media reports said victims of Sunday’s crash were found in life jackets, indicating that a sudden explosion from a bomb was unlikely.

“A version about a terrorist act is so far a mere assumption,” Pyadushkin said. “Only investigation could provide some proof. One would like to hope that the Russian aviation commission together with the military could conduct an efficient investigation of the catastrophe.”

Source: Voice of America

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Teams investigating the loss of a Russian Tu-154 aircraft said Wednesday that they had found at least two flight recorders from the wreckage of the Christmas Day crash into the Black Sea, which killed all 92 people aboard.The Russian Defense Ministry said a second recorder had been found and...