This is a developing story. Return to this post for updates.
The plane took off from Sochi Adler Airport on a “planned flight” and failed to check in with the control tower at 5:40am Moscow time, the ministry was quoted as saying, adding that all rescue services in the region have been deployed to search for the missing plane.
"According to preliminary data, a Russian Defence Ministry Tu-154 disappeared from radar screens after departing from Sochi," a source in the country's Emergencies Ministry told RIA Novosti earlier.
Another source familiar with the matter told Interfax that the plane went off radar when it was still maneuvering in Russian airspace over the Black Sea.
According to sources cited by Russia's LifeNews, the plane had allegedly been heading to Latakia province in Syria.
(via Straits Times)
CONFIRMED The plane crashed into the Black Sea.
Rescue teams have already recovered several bodies from the site of the crash of the Tu-154, which belonged to the Defense Ministry and was taking the Alexandrov Ensemble (the Red Army choir) to a New Year's concert at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia.
Viktor Ozerov, head of the defense affairs committee at the upper house of Russian parliament, said the crash could have been caused by a technical malfunction or a crew error, but he believes it could not have been terrorism because the plane was operated by the military.
"I totally exclude" the idea of an attack bringing down the plane, he said in remarks carried by state RIA Novosti news agency.
President Vladimir Putin went on television to declare a nationwide day of mourning Monday.
The head of military police of Russia's defense ministry, Vladimir Ivanovsky, was onboard the crashed Tupolev-154.
Reports circulating that there was a mid-air explosion. FSB investigating possibility of terrorist act.