Rescue workers yesterday found a flight recorder from the Russian military plane that crashed into the Black Sea over the weekend, the defence ministry said.
All 92 people aboard the Tu-154 plane are believed to have died on Sunday morning when it crashed two minutes after taking off from the southern Russian city of Sochi.
The 84 passengers included dozens of singers from Russia’s world-famous military choir who were going to the Russian air force base in Syria to perform at a New Year’s concert.
The defence ministry said in a statement that one of the flight recorders was found early yesterday morning about a mile away from the shore. State television showed footage of rescue workers on an inflatable boat carrying a container with a bright orange object submerged in water. The ministry said later that the black box was flown to a ministry laboratory outside Moscow and at first examination it did not appear to be seriously damaged.
It was not immediately clear when the data from the black box would be available but Magomed Tolboyev, a decorated test pilot, told the Interfax news agency that investigators could retrieve data from the flight recorder later in the day.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has already ordered a thorough investigation into the crash.
Mourners yesterday continued to bring flowers to the pier of Sochi’s sea port as 3,500 people, 45 ships and 192 divers swept the vast crash site for bodies of the victims and debris. Rescue teams so far have recovered 12 bodies and numerous body fragments, which have been flown to Moscow for identification.
Divers found fragments of the fuselage, parts of the engine and various mechanical parts, the defence ministry said.
Officials still have not announced the cause of the crash, but they have been anxious to quash speculation that it might have been caused by a bomb planted on board or a portable air defence missile.