Russia plane crash: Tribute video for Tu-154 victims
Reports state that some parts of the plan's wreckage have been found by divers.

After a massive search operation was launched in the Black Sea overnight to locate the Russian plane crash victims on Sunday, rescuers have found the first parts of the Syria-bound military plane.

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The plane, a Tu-154 jet, was carrying at least 60 members of the Red Army Choir who were heading towards Syria to entertain the Russian troops in the country for the New Year celebrations. Reports state that the plane went down off the city of Sochi soon after it took off on Sunday. At least 11 bodies have been found and flown to the Russian capital Moscow.

A spokesperson for the Sochi-based search and rescue branch of the emergency ministry Rimma Chernova said that it was confirmed that the parts found underwater were of the crashed Russian plane. "The debris is at the depth of 27 metres one mile from shore," spokeswoman Chernova told AFP.

The Russian military also added that the divers had found two elements of the plane's control mechanism."

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Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov during a televised briefing on Monday said authorities do not believe the plane crash was an act of terrorism, however, investigators are yet to confirm the cause of the crash.

"There could be various causes – they are being analysed by specialists, experts, the Investigative Committee. Currently, the main versions do not include an act of terror," Sokolov said. He also added that although the search operations are on, some of the bodies could have been carried off by the current to Abkhazia, the Georgian separatist region.

Reports state that the search operation continued throughout the night where more than 3,000 workers raced to find the rest of the bodies, the black box and the debris of the plane to find out what happened during the final moments in the plane. The massive search operation also included around 39 vessels which were covering more than a 100 square kilometres of the water and planes and helicopters searching for any trace from above.

"I think we will be able to find the location of the plane on the bottom of the Black Sea today," the commander of the Russian air force, Viktor Bondarev, told agencies.

"Eleven bodies and 154 (body) fragments were found over the first day. The search is complicated by the large depth range and the sea bottom relief characteristics in the presumed crash area," defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a press briefing.