Russian passenger plane crashes near Moscow; 71 dead
February 11 2018 04:42 PM
Russia plane
A man stands near a part of a Saratov Airlines Antonov An-148 plane that crashed after taking off from Moscow's Domodedovo airport on Sunday.

Reuters, AFP/Moscow

A Russian passenger plane crashed near Moscow soon after take-off on Sunday, killing all 71 people on board, and investigators said they were looking at all possible causes.
Temperatures were around minus 5 degrees Celsius with periodic snowfall when the short-haul AN-148 operated by Saratov Airlines took off for the city of Orsk in Orenburg region, about 1,500 km southeast of the capital.
President Vladimir Putin offered condolences to those who had lost relatives and ordered a special investigative commission to be set up.
"According to preliminary information, nobody survived," the Kremlin said in a statement.
The office of Russia's transport prosecutor said all 71 people on board had been killed. Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov confirmed there were no survivors and said DNA tests would be needed to identify the dead.
TV images of the crash site showed wreckage of the plane, including at least one engine, lying in fields covered with thick snow.
Helicopters were at the scene as well as rescuers on snowmobiles. An official of the Emergency Situations Ministry said two bodies and a flight recorder had been found.
Debris and human remains were spread over a radius of a kilometre from the crash site, investigators said.
They said they had opened a criminal case into the incident. Among the possibile causes they listed were weather conditions, human error and the plane's technical condition. No distress signals had been received from the crew.
The plane, manufactured in 2010, had been carrying 65 passengers and six crew. It disappeared from radar screens shortly after taking off from Moscow's Domodedovo airport.
Interfax news agency said one Swiss national had been among the passengers.
Elena Voronova, a spokeswoman for Saratov Airlines, said there had been no concerns about the technical condition of the plane, which went into service with her company in 2016.
Images broadcast on state TV showed relatives waiting at Orsk airport, some with their heads in their hands.
The city's mayor told the Rossiya 24 TV channel a team of psychologists was working at the airport to comfort people.
News agencies said witnesses in the village of Argunovo saw a burning plane falling from the sky. 

An Antonov An-148 aircraft is seen in this file photo.

Russian media reported that the emergency services were unable to reach the crash site by road and that rescue workers walked to the scene on foot. Emergency services said in a statement that more than 150 rescue workers were deployed to the site. 
A source at Domodedovo, Moscow's second largest airport, told agencies that the plane disappeared from radars within two minutes of take off. 
Local media website in the Orenburg region showed footage of distressed relatives at Orsk airport, where the plane was due to land. It also reported that psychologists have arrived at the provincial Russian airport. 
Plane crashes are common in Russia, where airlines often operate ageing aircraft in testing flying conditions. 
A light aircraft crashed in November in Russia's far east, killing six people on board.
In December 2016 a military plane carrying Russia's famed Red Army Choir crashed after taking off from the Black Sea resort of Sochi, killing all 92 people on board. 
The choir had been due to give a concert to Russian troops operating in Syria. 
Pilot error was blamed for that crash. 
In March 2016, all 62 passengers died when a FlyDubai jet crashed in bad weather during an aborted landing at Rostov-on-Don airport.

Last updated: February 11 2018 08:50 PM

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