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Russia Plays Down Terrorism behind Plane Crash - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Moscow- Mystery surrounded on Monday the Russian Defense Ministry Tu-154 plane that crashed Sunday in the Black Sea with 92 people on board while heading to Hmeymim airbase in Syria’s Latakia.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said military investigators were considering all theories, but that the version it may have been “a terrorist act” was “nowhere near the top of the list.”

Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov, who oversaw the rescue efforts, said investigators were looking into a possible technical fault or pilot error as the most likely reasons behind the crash.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said it was capable to find big fragments of the crashed plane, 1700 meters from the shores, while the search branches are still looking for the main part of the plane and the two black boxes records.

Russian rescuers had found on Monday evening only two bodies, which add to the 11 bodies that had been recovered on Sunday.

The Defense Ministry denied on Monday early media reports that some of the dead passengers had been wearing life jackets.

Russia’s main domestic security and counter-terrorism agency, the FSB, said it has found “no indications or facts pointing at the possibility of a terror attack or an act of sabotage on board the plane,” saying investigators are looking into bad fuel, pilot error, alien objects stuck in the engines or equipment failure.

Andrei Krasov, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma (lower house of parliament) Defense Committee said on Monday: “What happened is surely not a terrorist act.”

A source close to the investigation told Interfax the plane may have been overloaded.

“Witness accounts and other objective data obtained during the investigation suggest the plane was unable to gain height and for some reason – possibly overloading or a technical fault – crashed into the sea,” the unnamed source said.