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26 Russian citizens killed in Armenian plane crash

Written by: Staff
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Moscow, May 3 (UNI) Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed that there were 26 Russian citizens on board the Armenian plane A-320 which crashed off the Black Sea coast near Sochi resort early today.

All the 113 passengers and the crew of the airliner which belonged to the Armenian airline Armaiva, have been killed in the crash.

''We confirm that there were 26 Russian citizens on board the plane,'' the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Mikhail Kamynin told Interfax news agency.

''Immediate reports suggest all passengers and the crew are dead,'' the spokesman for the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry Viktor Beltsov told mediapersons.

The plane which was on a flight from Armenian capital Yerevan to Sochi crashed while doing a circle before landing at the Adler airport. Beltsov said there were 99 adults, six children and eight crew on the plane.

A total of 25 bodies from the wreckage of the plane have been retrieved in the rescue operation involving about 20 boats and a Be-200 amphibious aircraft, RIA Novosti reported quoting the emergency situations services. Two more Be-200s were ready to fly to the scene if necessary, it said.

''The rescue efforts were hampered by the deteriorating weather conditions at the site of the crash. ''Therefore planes cannot be used in the operation,'' emergency officials said.

The cause of the tragedy remained unclear, but the investigators were pursuing two main versions: bad weather conditions and poor maintenance.

''The only thing we know is that when the crew asked for permission to land, the air controller in Sochi responded that bad weather meant this was not yet possible,'' Gayane Davtyan, head of Armenia's civilian aviation authority told RIA Novosti.

''Contact with the crew was lost at 600 meters, when the plane went to circle for a second time,'' Davtyan added.

UNI XC SY VC1620

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