Rescuers have retrieved close to 2,000 pieces of debris of the Tu-154 military aircraft which crashed in the Black Sea on 25 December, sources said. They have also found the third black box but the tape in the data recorder was "seriously deformed".

While the search for the plane's wreckage has drawn to a close, rescuers might still continue looking for bodies of the crash victims. Only 19 bodies have been found so far of the 92 people on board the doomed flight that crashed minutes after taking off from Sochi airport in Russia.

A source from law enforcement agencies told Russia's Tass news agency on Thursday (29 December) that 239 body pieces were also recovered from the sea.

The source reportedly said: "The third black box that was in the tail section duplicates the parameters of the two others that are in Moscow. Its tape has been found and it is seriously deformed but it can be decoded."

The source added that the decoding of the two other flight data recorders, which are being analysed in Moscow, could be completed by Friday, 30 December.

The analysis of the data recorders is expected to throw some light on the crash that led to the deaths of more than 60 members of the famous Russian military band, Alexandrov, and nine journalists who were travelling to Syria's Latakia for a New Year concert for Russian troops stationed in the war-torn Middle East nation.

Tu-154 plane crash
A handout photo, provided by the Russian Emergencies Ministry, shows the wreckage of the crashed military Tupolev TU-154 plane lifted from the waters of the Black Sea during a search operation near Sochi, Russia Vladimir Velengurin/Russian Emergencies Ministry via Reuters