Plane Crash in Moscow Kills All 71 on Board

A Russian passenger plane carrying 71 people crashed near Moscow on Sunday, 11 February 2018, 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 crashed in the Ramensky district on the outskirts of Moscow at 2:48 pm (local time) after taking off from the capital's Domodedovo airport.

"All sixty-five passengers and six crew members on board have died," Russia's office of transport investigations said in a statement.

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The flight was operated by the domestic Saratov Airlines and was headed for Orsk, a city in the Ural mountains.

President Vladimir Putin offered "his profound condolences to those who lost their relatives in the crash," his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The crash site was enveloped in heavy snow, making it difficult to access, with emergency workers forced to park their vehicles and access the wreckage by foot.

Russia has experienced record snowfall in recent weeks and investigators said they would not rule out poor weather as a possible cause of the disaster. A regional official said the aircraft's black box had been retrieved.

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Emergency services said in a statement that more than 150 rescue workers were deployed to the site.

The transport investigations office said the plane disappeared from radar screens around four minutes after take-off.

The Russian transport minister was on his way to the crash site, agencies reported. The transport ministry said several causes for the crash were being considered, including weather conditions and human error.

Peskov said Putin had ordered the establishment of a special commission to probe the crash.

Prosecutors opened an investigation into Saratov Airlines following the crash. Russia's Investigative Committee will consider all possible causes, RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Saratov Airlines was founded in the 1930s and flies to 35 Russian cities. Its hub is the Saratov Central Airport in southern Russia.

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Russia has suffered numerous plane crashes, with airlines often operating ageing aircrafts in dangerous flying conditions. A light aircraft crashed in November 2017 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 was preparing 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.

The Antonov An-148, released in 2004, has a range of 3,600 kilometres (2,200 miles) and can carry 80 passengers.

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