Russian plane crash kills all 71 people on board

Credit: Daily Mail

MOSCOW — All 71 people aboard a Saratov Airlines plane died when the plane crashed southeast of Moscow on Sunday, Russian state news agency Tass reported.

Those on board included 65 passengers and six crew members, the Russian news agency Interfax said.

The plane went down in Ramenskoye District, in the Moscow region, the Russian emergency ministry told CNN.

The Antonov-148 aircraft disappeared from the radar shortly after takeoff from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport and crashed soon afterward, Tass reported.  Tass says plane fragments were found n the Ramenskoye area about 25 miles from the airport.  The plane was headed to the city of Orsk, about 1,000 miles southeast of Moscow.

“The snow is very dense … the Moscow region has had some of its heaviest snowfall in decades,” CNN’s Matthew Chance reported from Moscow. “It’s not clear at this stage whether weather was factor in this crash.”

While the cause of the crash remains uncertain, the Investigative Committee of Russia said officials have launched a criminal investigation.

Questions abound

Some clues may emerge from a flight data recorder, which was found at the site of the crash, the state-run Sputnik news agency reported.

But the debris is widespread.

“The scatter of fragments of the aircraft and bodies of dead passengers occupies a large territory; the radius is not less than 1 kilometer (0.6 miles),” said Svetlana Petrenko, spokeswoman the Investigative Committee of Russia.

Saratov Airlines employees and the Domodedovo Airport workers who prepared the plane for flight have been questioned, Petrenko said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “expresses deep condolences to all those who lost relatives and friends in this disaster,” his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Tass.

Sunday’s crash ends a 440-day streak without a passenger jet airliner fatality — the longest stretch in modern aviation history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.