SOCHI, Russia- A Russian military aircraft has crashed shortly after takeoff from a coastal resort on the Black Sea. Reports say all 91 occupants including members of the Alexandrov Ensemble were killed.
The defense 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 70m (165-230ft),” the defense ministry said in a statement.
Weather is not believed to be a factor and an investigation is underway.
The plane, flying from Moscow and had landed at Adler airport in Sochi for refueling. It was bound for Latakia in Syria. The musical group had a planned New Year’s concert for troops stationed at Russia’s Hmeimim air base, near Latakia.
The Alexandrov Ensemble is an official army choir of the Russian armed forces according to “Les Choeurs de l’Armée Rouge – Biography”. Founded during the Soviet era, the ensemble consists of a male choir, an orchestra, and a dance ensemble.
Alexandrov Ensemble, along with the MVD Ensemble, are the only groups with the right to claim the title “Red Army Choir”.
The Alexandrov Ensemble has entertained audiences both in Russia and throughout the world, performing a range of music including folk tunes, hymns, operatic arias, and popular music. The group’s repertoire has included The Volga Boatmen’s Song, Katyusha, Kalinka, and Ave Maria.