Second black box from crashed Russian plane found in Black Sea

Rescue vessels search the Black Sea outside Sochi on Dec 28, 2016, three days after a military plane carrying 92 people crashed in the Black Sea.
Rescue vessels search the Black Sea outside Sochi on Dec 28, 2016, three days after a military plane carrying 92 people crashed in the Black Sea. PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian rescuers trawling the Black Sea on Wednesday (Dec 28) found the second black box from a Syria-bound military plane that crashed at the weekend with 92 people on board, authorities said.

"The second onboard recorder from the Tu-154 plane has been found and raised from the seabed," the defence ministry said in a statement to Russian news agencies.

The discovery of the black box comes the day after rescuers found the primary inflight recorder and should help provide vital clues as investigators try to work out what caused the fatal crash.

Russia's FSB security service has said it is looking into four main suspected causes: pilot error, technical failure, faulty fuel and a foreign object in the engine.

The agency said that so far there were no indications to suggest terrorism was behind the crash, but did not rule it out entirely.

The Soviet-era jet, whose passengers included more than 60 members of an internationally renowned Red Army troupe, was heading to Russia's military airbase in Syria on Sunday when it went down off the coast of Sochi shortly after take-off from a refuelling stop at the airport.

The discovery of the second black box comes as searchers scramble to recover bodies and remaining debris from the aircraft in a major operation involving divers, deepwater machines, helicopters and drones.

The defence ministry told Russian agencies that so far 15 bodies and 239 body parts from those onboard the ill-fated aircraft have been found, with some of the remains transported to Moscow for DNA identification.

The loss of the plane has shocked Russia at a time when the Kremlin was celebrating the recapture of Syria's Aleppo by regime forces, the biggest success since it launched its bombing campaign to support President Bashar al-Assad last year.

The military performers were set to perform for Russian troops at the Hmeimim airbase in Syria, Moscow's main staging post in the war-torn country.