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Russia blames crash of military plane with 92 aboard on pilot error or technical problems, not terrorism

On Monday, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said that the crash of a Russian Tu-154 transport plane in the Black Sea on Christmas Day was likely due to pilot error or technical failure. On Sunday, Sokolov had said Russia was investigating the "entire spectrum" of possible causes, including terrorism. The 92 people on board the Russian Defense Ministry plane included members of the world-renowned Russian army choir, the Alexandrov Ensemble, and a well-known charity doctor. There are believed to be no survivors, though more than 3,000 people, including 100 divers, were searching off the coast of Sochi late Sunday and early Monday, using powerful spotlights, drones, helicopters submarines, and 32 ships. They have recovered at least 11 bodies.

The airplane had been traveling to the Hemeimeem air base in Syria, where Russian troops and fighter jets aiding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are stationed. The Alexandrov Ensemble had planned to perform a New Year's concert for the Russian troops. Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Monday a national day of mourning. You can learn more in the Associated Press report below. Peter Weber