Saratov Airlines flight carrying 71 people crashes after take off from Domodedovo airport
Moscow (TIP): More than 70 people died when a Russian passenger plane crashed shortly after take-off from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport on Sunday, the 11th of Feb, officials say.
Saratov Airlines flight 6W703 was heading to Orsk, a city near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan, when it went down near the town of Argunovo, about 50 miles south-east of Moscow. Witnesses said the plane, an Antonov An-148 aircraft, was in flames as it fell from the sky.
The plane was carrying 71 people – 65 passengers and six crew members. Emergency services officials told the Tass news agency there were no survivors. Wreckage from the plane was reported to be spread over a large area. It was unclear if there were any casualties among people on the ground at the crash site.
Russia’s gazeta.ru website cited unnamed investigators as saying the pilot had reported a technical malfunction on board the plane and asked for clearance for an emergency landing at the nearby Zhukovsky International Airport. Officials have not confirmed the report. Other reports said one of the plane’s engines may have exploded before the crash.
The flight-tracking site Flightradar24 tweeted that the seven-year-old passenger jet had gone into a steep descent of 1,000 metres (3,300ft) a minute five minutes after take-off, after which it had vanished from radars.
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, expressed his condolences to the families and friends of those who had died in the crash and tasked the government with setting up a special commission to investigate.
A source from Russia’s emergency services told Interfax the 71 people on board had no chance of survival.
Russian state television aired a video of the crash site, showing parts of the wreckage in the snow. Russia has experienced record snowfalls in recent days and visibility was reportedly poor.
The Russian-made plane had been bought by Saratov from another Russian airline a year ago.
Russian media reported that the emergency services had been unable to reach the crash site by road and rescue workers had walked to the scene on foot. Emergency services said in a statement that more than 150 rescue workers had been deployed.
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.
The governor of the Orenburg region, which the plane was flying to, told Russian media more than 60 people on the plane were from the region.
Local media website Ural56.ru in the Orenburg region showed footage of distressed relatives at Orsk airport, where the plane was due to land. Andrei Odintsov, the mayor of the city of Orsk, near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan, told Russian state television that six psychologists and four ambulances with medics are working with the relatives in the small airport.