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Terrorism unlikely cause of Russian plane crash, says transport minister

People light candles and lay flowers in memory of victims of the crashed plane in the center of Sochi, Russia, Sunday, Dec.
25, 2016 

Pilot error or a technical fault was probably to blame for Sunday's Black Sea plane crash that killed 92 people, Russia's transport minister has said.

The military plane crashed on its way from the southern city of Sochi to Syria. Among its passengers were members of the world-famous Russian army choir who planned to perform at a New Year's concert at the Russian military base in Syria.

Transport minister Maxim Sokolov said in televised remarks on Monday that investigators are looking into a possible pilot error or a technical fault and that a terrorist attack was not among the main theories.

Rescue teams on Monday continued to search for victims. The Russian Tu-154 was carrying 84 passengers and eight crew members. Emergency crews found fragments of the plane about a mile from shore. By Sunday evening, rescue teams had recovered 11 bodies.

More than 3,000 rescue workers on 32 ships - including over 100 divers flown in from across Russia - were searching the crash site at sea and along the shore, the Defence Ministry said.

Along with the choir, those on board included nine Russian journalists and a Russian doctor famous for her work in war zones and helping homeless people.

Mr Sokolov said the government saw no need to heighten security measures at Russian airports. A plane with bodies from the crash has landed in Moscow where the remains will be identified, he added.

Monday has been declared a day of mourning in Russia.

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