ReutersAn Armenian airliner crashed into the Black Sea off the Russian coast in heavy rain on Wednesday, and all 113 passengers and crew on board were killed, the Russian emergencies ministry said.
Investigators blamed bad weather for bringing down the Airbus A-320, which was trying to land at Sochi, a popular holiday spot in southern Russia. Justice officials said they had no reason to suspect a bomb.
A spokesman for the Russian emergencies ministry said rescue workers had found baggage, life jackets, body parts, pieces of the shattered plane and a patch of oil floating on the surface of the sea at the crash site. At least 25 bodies had been found by 0700 GMT.
"According to preliminary information, all people on board are dead," a ministry spokeswoman said.
The plane, operated by Armavia, had been making a short flight of about an hour from the Armenian capital Yerevan. Most of the passengers were Armenian nationals. The airline organized a special flight to take relatives from Yerevan to the site of the tragedy.
"The fragments were found six km from the shore near the airport of Adler. The search operation continues," ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said.
Stunned relatives sat quietly waiting for news at Adler airport just outside Sochi, a resort town that became popular with Russians in the Soviet era. Relatives also gathered at the airport in Yerevan. A list of passengers showed 26 had Russian passports and almost all the rest were Armenians.
"I was waiting for a call from my mother that she had arrived okay. But she did not phone, so I phoned myself and heard that this accident had happened," Hapet Tadevosyan, 32, told Reuters as he stood in the Yerevan airport building. "She flew to Sochi to see her sisters, whom she hadn't seen for 15 years," he said.
Beltsov said the plane had vanished from radar screens at 2.15 a.m. (2215 GMT Tuesday) near Sochi, which lies close to the Georgian border. The emergencies ministry said the torrential rain had probably caused the crash after the plane failed to land on its first attempt. It crashed when it prepared for a second approach.
"At the moment, we have absolutely no evidence pointing to the possibility of a terrorist act on the plane," Deputy General Prosecutor Nikolai Shepel told Interfax news agency.
An Armavia official said the aircraft had initially been refused permission to land because of the storm, but the airport officials changed their minds. He ruled out a technical failure. "The plane was in an ideal technical condition, the crew was well qualified," said Andrei Aghajanov, deputy commercial director of the airline.
Attempts to find the crash's cause were hampered by the rain and the fact that most of the plane had sunk to the seabed. "The main parts of the plane are located at around 400 meters depth," Beltsov said.
Armavia is the largest airline in ex-Soviet Armenia and has three Airbus 320s of the kind that crashed. The plane was carrying at least five children and eight crew members.