Air crush in Sotchi: relatives of killed people start identification of bodies

In Sochi, the Russian holiday resort near where the Airbus A-320 crashed, about 60 men waited outside the morgue. They were called in one at a time and escorted to a room where the bodies had been laid out for identification.

There were at least five children on the plane. Most of the passengers were Armenian. There were also 26 Russian passport holders on board.

About 36 hours after the jet vanished from radar screens as it flew to Sochi from Armenia , divers and rescue workers in boats had pulled 49 bodies from the water, officials said. Twenty of the dead had been identified.

The search was going on for more bodies and the aircraft's "black box" flight recorder which should help investigators piece together the jet's last moments.

Airbus specialists working at the site of a crashed Armenian airliner on the Black Sea said Thursday they had detected a radio signal, possibly from the plane's black boxes, RIA Novosti reports.

Investigators and officials from Armavia, the airline operating the plane, said they believed torrential rain and poor visibility were factors in the crash. Russian prosecutors have ruled out terrorism.

Armavia's managers said the aircraft had initially turned back to Yerevan because weather conditions in Sochi made it impossible to land.

The crew changed course again and tried to land at Sochi a second time when flight controllers told them the weather had cleared slightly, the airline said.

Local authorities had turned Sochi 's Moskva hotel into a makeshift reception centre for people who arrived in the town hoping to recover their relatives' bodies, according to Reuters.

A special submersible was despatched to Sochi to help retrieve some of the debris which, rescuers say, has sunk to the seabed about 500 metres (1,600 feet) down.

Russian television showed a rescuer picking up a single, white training shoe from the water and adding it to a pile of clothes and shredded suitcases on the deck of his dinghy.