Russia: Divers find jet fragments in Black Sea


MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on the crash of a Russian aircraft with 92 people on board en route to Russia’s air base in Syria (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

Russia’s emergency situations ministry says divers have recovered fragments of the defense ministry’s passenger jet that crashed into the Black Sea.

The ministry said in a statement Monday that divers this afternoon found several fragments of the plane one mile away from the shore and 25 meters  (82 feet) under the sea. It says some of the debris has been recovered, and the divers are going back into the water to search for more.

All 92 people onboard the Russian military’s Tu-154 plane are believed to have died Sunday morning when the jet crashed two minutes after taking off from the southern city of Sochi en route to Syria. More than 3,500 rescue workers are involved in the operation to find the remains those on board and plane debris.

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2:45 p.m.

Pope Francis has led thousands of faithful in silent prayer for the victims of the Russian military plane crash.

Speaking to thousands of people who gathered Monday in St. Peter’s Square to celebrate the feast day of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, Francis expressed his “strong condolences” to the Russian people and to those who lost loved ones in the crash.

He noted that among the dead were members of the Russian army chorus, which he said performed in 2004 at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II.

Francis also asked for prayers for the hundreds of emergency workers helping to search for the plane wreckage and victims in the Black Sea.


1:55 p.m.

Russia’s intelligence agency FSB says it sees no signs of a possible terror plot in Sunday’s plane crash over the Black Sea.

All 92 people on the Russian military plane are believed to have died when it crashed two minutes after taking off from the southern city of Sochi. The passengers included dozens of singers in Russia’s world-famous military choir, nine Russian journalists and a Russian doctor known for her charity work in war zones.

The FSB said Monday in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies that it “has not found any signs or facts pointing to a possible terror attack or sabotage on board.”

The intelligence agency says it is focusing the probe on possibilities including pilot error, low quality of fuel, external objects getting in the engine or an unspecified technical fault.

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