By Andah John
A Russian military plane with 92 people on board has crashed into the Black Sea, Russia’s defence ministry has confirmed.
The plane was reported to have disappeared from radar 20 minutes after taking off from the resort of Sochi at 05:20 (02:20 GMT).
Latest reports say fragments have been found.
The plane, a Tu-154, was said to be carrying service personnel, members of the famed Alexandrov military band, and reporters.
And it was revealed that the plane was flying to the Syrian province of Latakia.
The flight originated in Moscow and had landed at Adler airport in Sochi for refuelling, local media have reported.
The defence ministry said in a statement: “Fragments of the Tu-154 plane of the Russian defence ministry were found 1.5km (one mile) from the Black Sea coast of the city of Sochi at a depth of 50 to 70 metres.”
For now no survivors have been found, local rescuers told the Interfax news agency.
Reports said most of the passengers were Alexandrov Ensemble members, along with nine journalists and eight crew members.
There were also reports that the flying conditions were favourable. An investigation has, however, been launched to determine whether any violations of air transport safety regulations had taken place.
Spokesperson of the ministry Igor Konashenkov was reported to have said that the plane was carrying passengers to a New Year’s performance for Russian troops deployed in Syria.
Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin has ordered a state commission to look into the crash and sent his condolences to the families and friends of the victims.
Earlier, Concise News reported that a Russian military plane had reportedly disappeared from radar just minutes after take-off from the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Local media quoted a source at the emergency ministry as saying the missing aircraft was a Tu-154.
And Russia’s defence ministry later confirmed its plane was missing. It added that 91 people were on board, that is according to Russia’s news agencies.
The spokesperson for the ministry Igor Konashenkov said soldiers, members of the famed Alexandrov military band and nine reporters were on board the plane.
Konashenkov was reported to have said they were flying to Syria to take part in a new year’s performance for Russian troops deployed in Syria.
But there are unconfirmed reports that the plane was headed for Syria’s Latakia province.
Interfax news agency reports quoted the emergency ministry source as saying the plane disappeared from radar 20 minutes after taking off from Sochi’s Adler airport at 05:20 local time (02:20 GMT).
The aircraft was said to have gone missing as it was manoeuvring over Russia’s territorial waters, a source told Interfax news agency.
A search operation was now under way, Russia’s state-run Rossiya24 TV channel said.