Sochi plane crash day of mourning

Moscow has mobilised thousands of people in the search for the bodies of 92 people aboard flight Tu-154 after the Russian military plane plunged into the Black Sea on Christmas Day.

The BBC reported that some 3,000 people, including 200 divers and ships, planes and helicopters were still scouring the freezing waters. They had recovered just 11 bodies as well as debris from the aircraft, which crashed soon after taking off from Sochi to a Russian military base in Syria.

As the nation held a day of mourning on Monday (26 December) tributes were paid to the victims, which included singers from Russia's world-famous military choir, nine Russian journalists and a Russian doctor known for her charity work in war zones.

Vadim Ananyev, a soloist with the choir, who stayed behind with his wife following the birth of their new baby spoke of his heartbreak.

"I have lost my friends and colleagues, all killed, all five soloists. I feel in complete disarray," Ananyev told the AP. "It is such a shame. I have known these people for 30 years. I know their wives and children. I feel terrible for the children and for all that I have lost."

Ananyev said he had received condolences from all over Russia and from abroad. "We were loved all over the world, never mind the political situation," he said.

Mourners stopped by the Sochi Adler airport on Monday to light candles and lay flowers at an improvised shrine that featured photos of the plane and of some victims.

At a briefing on Monday evening, Major General Igor Konashenkov, a Russian Defence Ministry spokesman, said that fragments of the plane's fuselage and windows had been found. But the search party is yet to locate the plane's "black box" which may help to explain what caused the crash.

Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov said that terrorism "was not among the main versions" of the theories as to what brought down the plane, with technical faults or pilot error thought to be more likely scenarios.

The plane was bound for Latakia, Syria, where Russia has a significant military base, and had stopped at Sochi to refuel.