71 dead after Russian passenger plane crashes near Moscow

Photo: EPA-EFE

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The Antonov An-148 aircraft with 65 passengers and six crew members crashed minutes after take-off from Moscow’s airport killing everyone on board. 

Saratov Airlines Flight 703 went down on Sunday near the town of Ramenskoye, some 40 kilometers from the Moscow’s Domodedovo airport.

Russia’s Minister for Transportation Maxim Sokolov confirmed late on Sunday that there were no survivors; he said that two children, aged five and 12, were among the dead.

The plane was heading from the Russian capital to the city of Orsk, near the border with Kazakhstan.

It is not yet clear what caused the crash, as Russian investigators said that no reports about technical malfunctions were received from the plane’s crew ahead of the crash.

Other reports, however, claim that the pilot told air traffic control operators there was a technical malfunction and he planned to make an emergency landing before the plane crashed.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing “the burning plane falling out of the sky” and the aircraft “breaking up in the sky” after it went missing from radar about 20 kilometers south-east of Domodedovo Airport.

News agencies reported that the Russian Ministry for Transportation was investigating possible causes including weather conditions and pilot error.

Russian President Vladimir Putin postponed a planned trip to Sochi and a meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in order to closely monitor the investigation. Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that “the President has instructed the government to set up a special commission over the plane crash in the Moscow region”.