MOSCOW: A Russian passenger plane carrying 71 people crashed near Moscow on Sunday minutes after taking off, killing everyone on board in one of the country’s worst-ever aviation disasters.
Investigators said the Antonov An-148 plane went down in the Ramensky district on the outskirts of Moscow at 2.48pm after taking off from Domodedovo airport in the capital.
“Sixty-five passengers and six crew members were on board, and all of them died,” Russia’s office of transport investigations said in a statement.
Three children were among the fatalities on a list published by Russian authorities.
The flight was operated by the domestic Saratov Airlines and was headed for Orsk, a city in the Ural Mountains.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said numerous possible causes of the crash would be considered, including weather conditions as the country has experienced record snowfall in recent weeks. It will also, consider human error and technical failure, but it did not mention the possibility of terrorism.
More than 400 people and 70 vehicles had been deployed to the crash site, the country’s emergency ministry said.
The site was enveloped in heavy snow, making it difficult to access, with emergency workers forced to park their vehicles and reach the wreckage by foot. Others used snowmobiles and drones to survey the scene.
Russian transport minister Maksim Sokolov said “genetic expertise” would be needed to help identify the victims, adding that it could “take two or three months”.