Terror not ruled out as cause of Syria-bound Tu-154 crash: Russian official
The head of a commission investigating the crash of a Russian Tu-154 jet into the Black Sea on December 25 said Thursday that although there is still no evidence of an explosion on board, the possibility that the crash was caused by an act of terror has not been ruled out. Lt. Gen. Sergei Bainetov, head of the commission set up by Russia's Defense Ministry, said an initial analysis of the cockpit voice recorder and of the communications between the pilots and the control tower gave no indication of a blast. He added, however, that "A terror attack doesn't always involve an explosion". DEBKAfile's intelligence sources say that his comments indicate that the commission may be looking into the possibility that the plane's technical systems were sabotaged while the flight to Syria was refueling at the city of Sochi's Adler airport. The Tu-154, a three-engine aircraft built in 1983, crashed exactly 70 seconds after takeoff with 92 people on board, including members of the Red Army Choir that had been scheduled to perform for Russian troops in Syria.
Meanwhile, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said Thursday that bodies and parts of bodies continue to be recovered in the area of the crash. More than 13 large parts of the plane and 2,000 fragments have been removed from the bottom of the sea, according to the minister.