Notes From Hairenik

The plane en route to Sochi, which crashed around 3:15 am Yerevan time into the Black Sea, carried 113 people, including six children. Eighty five of the persons on board were Armenian citizens, while 26 were Russians, and there were also one Georgian and one Ukranian. About 46 bodies were recovered as of this writing.

Although 20 boats were dispatched to the area of the crash, recovery of pieces of the plane and bodies is proving to be a daunting task because of the stormy conditions, with pelting rain and high waves. It is believed that some parts of the plane may have sunk down as deep as 1.2 miles, although the fusilage was determined to be located at about 1,300 feet below the sea surface.

Terrorism has been ruled out as a possible cause of the crash. At first airline authorities were quick to blame the bad weather, but it seems that poor instructions transmitted from the air control tower in Sochi will ultimately be at fault. As the plane approached for landing the pilots were instructed to loop around the airport first, then a few minutes later the controllers changed their minds, claiming that the conditions were safe to touch down. Minutes later the plane disappeared from radar. There is no word about whether the black boxes can be recovered--it does not seem likely at this point.

President Kocharian already declared Friday and Saturday as national days of mourning.

For updated information, go to the online BBC News and New York Times articles. ArmeniaLiberty also has published an article that can be read here.

Photo caption: Parts of the plane were brought ashore after it crashed into the Black Sea. Denis Sinyakov/AFP–Getty Images