Russia Plane Crash: No Survivors, Hunt for Cause Initiated
Investigators will examine Monday numerous possible causes of one of Russia's worst ever aviation accidents that saw a passenger plane carrying 71 people crash near Moscow minutes after take-off, killing everyone on board.
Russia's Investigative Committee said it would consider explanations including human error, technical failure and weather conditions, as the country has experienced record snowfall in recent weeks. But it did not mention the possibility of terrorism.
The Antonov An-148 plane went down in the Ramensky district on the outskirts of Moscow at 2:48 pm local time on Sunday 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. 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".
News agencies said witnesses in the village of Argunovo saw a burning plane falling from the sky.
Russian President Vladimir Putin offered "his profound condolences to those who lost their relatives in the crash," his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Putin also cancelled plans to travel to Sochi to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas. Instead, the meeting will take place in Moscow.
Russia has suffered numerous plane crashes, with airlines often operating ageing aircraft in dangerous flying conditions.
A light aircraft crashed in November 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.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team