Russia: All 71 Onboard Killed in Plane Crash

Emergency services work at the scene where a short-haul regional Antonov AN-148 plane crashed after taking off from Moscow's Domodedovo airport, outside Moscow, Feb. 11, 2018.

Emergency services work at the scene where a short-haul regional Antonov AN-148 plane crashed after taking off from Moscow's Domodedovo airport, outside Moscow, Feb. 11, 2018.

 

All 71 people aboard a Russian passenger plane were killed when it crashed near Moscow, Russian officials said Sunday.

"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 victims.

The seven-year-old plane disappeared from the radar just minutes after departing from the capital city's second largest airport, Domodedovo and was falling up to 6,700 meters per minute in the last seconds of the crash, flight-tracking site FlightRadar24 reported.

 

The An-148 regional jet, operated by Saratov Airlines, was traveling from Domodedovo, to the city of Orsk when it crashed near Argunovo, about 80 kilometers southeast of Moscow.

The cause of the crash is currently unknown. Russian media reported that search crews had found one flight recorder but it is not clear if it is the data or voice recorder.

FILES - This file photo taken on October 10, 2017 shows the Domodedovo International Airport outside Moscow.
FILES - This file photo taken on October 10, 2017 shows the Domodedovo International Airport outside Moscow.

Russian Minister for Transport Maxim Sokolov told reporters Sunday that it was too early to draw conclusions, but that all potential reasons for the crash were being investigated by the Civil Aviation Committee.

"Specialists have started working, right now they are collecting the remaining of the plane, search for so-called black boxes and only after the results of their investigation and examination we'll be able to raise the subject of the reasons of this plane crash," he said.

Sokolov also announced that a group of psychologists and doctors would travel to the Orenburg region Monday to help the families of the victims.

Police block the road near the site of air crash outside Moscow, Feb. 11, 2018.
Police block the road near the site of air crash outside Moscow, Feb. 11, 2018.

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

U.S. President Donald Trump joined world leaders in offering condolences to Putin and the Russian people. "The United States is deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of those on board Saratov Airlines Flight 703. We send our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and to the people of Russia," a statement released by the White House said.

The crash site was covered in heavy snow, delaying access to the area as rescue workers had to park their cars and travel to the crash site on foot.

The airport has been the focus of security concerns in the past. It came under sharp criticism in 2004, after Chechen suicide bombers destroyed two airliners that took off from the airport on the same evening, killing a total of 90 people. A 2011 bombing in the arrivals area killed 37 people.

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.

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