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Russia plane crash: Officials confirm all 71 people on board have died

Around 65 passengers and 6 crew members were on board the regional flight destined for Orsk.

Russia Plane Crash Emergency response employees work at the scene of a AN-148 plane crash in Stepanovskoye village, about 40km from the Domodedovo airport. Source: AP/PA Images

Updated at 4.50pm

A RUSSIAN PASSENGER plane that crashed near Moscow minutes after taking off has been called one of the country’s worst ever aviation disasters.

“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.

The Antonov An-148 jet departed from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport at 2.21pm Moscow time (11.21am Irish time) and was headed for Orsk when it vanished from radar screens.

Russia’s emergencies ministry confirmed to State news agency Tass, that fragments of the plane had been found in the Ramensky district of Moscow.

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.

The Russian-made plane was reportedly seven years old and bought by Saratov Airlines from another Russian airline a year ago.

Putin orders probe

Russia Plane Crash Police block the road to the scene of a AN-148 plane crash. Source: AP/PA Images

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.

The governor of the Orenburg region, where the plane was flying to, told Russian media that “more than 60 people” on board the plane were from the region.

Russia Plane Crash An ambulance van drives to the scene of the crash. Source: Nikolay Koreshkov via PA Images

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 Saratov Central Airport in southern Russia.

Grieving relatives

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, told Russian state television that six psychologists and four ambulances with medics were working with the relatives in the small airport.

Orsk is the second biggest city in the Orenburg region, near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan.

- with reporting from © – AFP 2018

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