MOSCOW, May 3 (RIA Novosti) - Investigators said bad weather was the most probable cause of a fatal plane crash on Russia's Black Sea early Wednesday, and ruled out a terrorist attack.
A total of 113 people are presumed dead after an Armenian-owned Airbus airliner plunged into the Black Sea in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The Emergency Situations Ministry said the most likely cause of the crash was bad weather - the Armavia Airlines plane had reportedly been trying to make a second attempt to land in heavy rain - and an expert with Russia's Air Traffic Organization concurred that poor visibility might have caused the accident.
Prosecutors ruled out the possibility of a terrorist attack, and a representative of the Interior Ministry in the southern Krasnodar Territory said investigators were considering three versions.
"We are considering several scenarios: a mistake made by the pilot, a technical malfunction or a mistake by air traffic controllers," Igor Zhukov of the North Caucasus transport police said.
However, Artyom Movsisyan, the head of Armenia's main civil aviation department, said a technical error was unlikely. He said the A-320 had undergone a complete technical overhaul in April 2006, and experts from Sabina Technics had given a positive conclusion of its technical condition shortly before takeoff.
The Armenian airline that operated the downed plane also said the fatal crash was likely caused by bad weather conditions.
"Crew commander Grigory Surenovich Grigoryan was one of the [airline's] most experienced pilots and had flown Airbus airliners for years. Experts believe the crash was apparently caused not by human error but by bad weather conditions," the airline press service said.
The A-320 passenger jet, which was flying from the Armenian capital, Yerevan, to an airport servicing the popular Russian resort of Sochi, disappeared from radar screens at 2:15 a.m. local time (Tuesday 10:15 p.m. GMT).
Russia's Prosecutor General's Office has started analysis of an exchange between air traffic controllers and the crew of the A-320 plane, the transport minister said.
"The Prosecutor General's Office, jointly with our technical experts, will shortly begin to decode messages exchanged between air traffic controllers and the crew," Igor Levitin said, adding that flight recorders had yet to be found.
"If divers fail to raise fragments [of the airliner], special equipment will be provided that will do it independently," the minister said.
The Emergency Situations Ministry has sent sonar equipment to the scene that can detect objects on the seabed at a depth of up to three kilometers.
As of 21:40 Moscow time (5:40 p.m. GMT), rescuers recovered 47 bodies from the water.
"The number of bodies retrieved [from the sea] has increased to 47. Two bodies have been identified by now," the Krasnodar Territory prosecutor said, adding that rescue work would continue throughout the night until the last body was recovered.