A Russian military plane carrying more than 90 people disappeared from radar Sunday after taking off near Sochi, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.
The Tupolev Tu-154 plane, with 83 passengers and eight crew members on board, had taken off from the Adler airport near the Black Sea city early Sunday morning local time, RIA Novosti reported.
The plane was headed to the Russian Hmeymim airbase in Latakia, Syria, where the country has a large military presence, for a concert ahead of New Year’s Eve, a source told Russia’s state news agency Tass.
The renowned Alexandrov Ensemble, the Russian army’s official choir, was on board the plane, a source told Russia’s Interfax News Agency. In addition to choir members, nine journalists plus other military members were on board as well, the Defense Ministry told Tass.
A Defense Ministry spokesman told CNN “no comment, wait for official announcement” when asked about the plane disappearance. Tass has reported that, according to the Defense Ministry, “all search and rescue services of aviation units on the Southern Military District in Krasnodar and neighboring regions are engaged in aircraft search.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been informed that a Tu-154 plane disappeared from radar after taking off from Sochi, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Tass.
“The President has been informed that the plane disappeared from radars,” Peskov said. “Putin gets information from emergencies services conducting the search effort.”