As you relax and enjoy this Christmas Day, please take a moment to say a prayer for the victims and families of this morning’s tragic air crash, which wiped out one of the finest military choirs in the world.
The Russian military plane which crashed in the Black Sea as it made its way to Syria with 92 people onboard, included more than 60 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, formerly the Red Army Choir, heading to celebrate the New Year with troops.
Ralina Gilmanova, 22, and her fiancé Mikhail, who were members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, were on the flight that crashed in the Black Sea
Local news agencies, citing the Russian defence ministry, said the Tu-154 plane had crashed shortly after take-off at 5:40 am local time (0240 GMT) from the southern city district of Adler, Sochi, where it had been refuelling.
The victims include conductor Valery Khalilov, nine journalists and Elizaveta Glinka, a doctor and charity worker who serves on the Kremlin human rights council. She was was travelling to Syria to bring medication to a university hospital in the coastal city of Latakia near the airbase, agencies reported.
Russia has so far ruled out terrorism as a cause of the disaster, which will be particularly painful in the deeply religious and sentimental country, as it occurs in the run-up to the Orthodox Christmas on January 7th.