71 Killed After Russian Passenger Plane Crashes Near Moscow

A plane operated by Russia’s Saratov Airlines crashed in the countryside near Moscow on Sunday, killing all 71 people on board, Russian Interfax news agency reported. 65 passengers and six crew members were onboard the plane which disappeared from radars less than 10 minutes after taking off from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, TASS reported.

The plane - a 7 year old, short-haul regional Antonov AN-148 - was bound for the Russian city of Orsk in the Orenburg region that borders Kazakhstan, according to Reuters. The plane was first operated by Rossiya Airlines, including on international routes, and then was leased to Saratov Airlines.

Flightradar tracking  of the plane ended at 11:27AM UTC when the plane suddenly tumbled from a height of 6000 feet at an airspeed of 332 knots.

Russian state TV channel Rossiya-24 showed footage of fragments of the plane in a snow-covered field. “Debris has been found, there are no survivors,” TASS quoted a source as saying.

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash: it may have been the result of weather conditions, human error or technical failure, according to TASS citing an emergency source. The source added that there were no extreme weather conditions in the Moscow region at that time.

The Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) said air traffic control had lost radio contact with the ill-fated plane “a few minutes” after take-off, and it disappeared from radar screens while flying over the Ramenskoe district of the Moscow region, TASS reported.