Russian plane crash kills 71 people on-board

A Russian passenger plane carrying 71 people crashed Sunday, February 10, near Moscow, killing everyone aboard shortly after the jet took off from one of the city’s airports.

Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov confirmed that there were no survivors but did not give the number of people on board.

The Saratov Airlines regional jet disappeared from radar screens a few minutes after departing from Domodedovo Airport en route to Orsk, a city some 1,500 kilometres (1,000 miles) southeast of Moscow.

Fragments from the twin-engine Antonov An-148 airliner were found in the Ramenskoye area, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the airport.

State television footage showed the pieces strewn across a snowy field.

Russia has seen record high snowfalls in recent days and visibility was reportedly poor. No one on the ground was reported hurt.

State news agency Tass said the plane, which had been flying since 2010, was out of service for two years because of a shortage of parts.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said all possible causes were being explored.

President Vladimir Putin put off a planned trip to Sochi to monitor the investigation. Putin was to meet Monday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the Black Sea resort, where the president has an official residence.

Instead, Abbas will meet with Putin in Moscow in the latter part of Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies.

A source at Domodedovo, Moscow’s second largest airport, told agencies that the plane disappeared from radars within two minutes of take off.

The An-148 was developed by Ukraine’s Antonov company in the early 2000s and manufactured in both Ukraine and Russia.

The plane that crashed was ordered by Rossiya Airlines, a subsidiary of Aeroflot. It was put into storage from 2015 to 2017 because of the parts shortage.

Tass reported that the aircraft re-entered service for Saratov Airlines in February 2017.

Shabby equipment and poor supervision plagued Russian civil aviation for years after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, but its safety record has improved in recent years.

The last large-scale crash in Russia occurred on December 25, 2016, when a Tu-154 operated by the Russian Defence Ministry on its way to Syria crashed into the Black Sea minutes after take-off from the southern Russian city of Sochi. All 92 people on board were killed.

In March 2016, a Boeing 737-800 flown by FlyDubai crashed while landing at Rostov-on-Don, killing all 62 people aboard.

An onboard bomb destroyed a Russian Metrojet airliner in October 2015 soon after it took off from Egypt’s Sharm al Sheikh resort, killing 224 people. – AFP.

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