Russian emergency officials: 112 passengers on crashed Armenian airline are dead

An Armenian passenger jet crashed in bad weather early Wednesday off the Black Sea coast shortly before it was to land in the Russian city of Sochi, killing at least 112 people, emergency officials said.

Armenian airline officials said they believed the crash was due to the stormy weather.

The Airbus A-320, which belonged to the Armenian airline Armavia, disappeared from radar screens just under 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from the shore and crashed after making a turn and heading toward the Adler airport near Sochi, Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said. Rescue officials in the ministry's southern regional branch said the 112 people aboard the plane, including five children, were killed.

Beltsov had said earlier that according to preliminary information, there were 113 people aboard. Armavia deputy commercial deputy Andrei Agadzhanov said in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, that the plane was carrying 105 passengers and eight crew. There was no immediate explanation for the varying numbers.

Wreckage from the plane was found not far from the shoreline, Beltsov said, and salvage workers said the fuselage was found at a depth of 450 meters (1,485 feet). Search and rescue teams have pulled 11 bodies from the water, Beltsov said. Boats and divers were involved in the search.

The plane disappeared from radar screens at about 2:15 a.m. (2215 GMT Tuesday) during a flight from Yerevan to Sochi, a resort city on the Black Sea in southern Russia, Beltsov said.

He said that the plane went down while trying to make a repeat attempt at an emergency landing. However, the Interfax news agency quoted the Russian air control agency as saying that the plane's crew had not declared any emergency.

Agadzhanov said that the crew had communicated with Sochi ground controllers while the plane was flying over the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. The ground controllers said there were poor weather conditions but the plane could still land, the representative said. Just before the landing, however, the ground controllers told the crew to make another circle in the air before approaching the airport. Then the plane crashed, reports the AP.


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