LONDON — A Russian passenger plane crashed shortly after leaving a Moscow airport Sunday, killing all 71 people on board, Russia’s Transport Ministry said.
There were 65 passengers and six crew members aboard the short-haul flight.
“Judging by everything, no one has survived this crash,” Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said Sunday afternoon.
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry told Reuters earlier Sunday that two bodies had been found at the site of the plane crash. NBC News was unable to immediately verify the report. Investigators told Reuters that debris and human remains were spread over a radius of more than half a mile from the crash site.
The Saratov Airlines flight was heading from Moscow to the city of Orsk near the Kazakhstan border before plummeting to the ground outside the capital.
Russian officials said all passengers aboard the airliner are believed to have been residents of the Orenburg region, where the plane was headed, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
The Russian Ministry for Civil Defense said the plane crashed in the Ramenskoye area, which is around 25 miles southeast of Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. Russian emergency services were on the scene, with over 150 people deployed to deal with the incident, the ministry said.
Footage and stills from news agencies showed fragments strewn across a snowy field with no buildings nearby.
The Saratov Airlines flight #6W703 crashed around five minutes after take off and was falling with up to 22,000 feet per minute, according to Flightradar24, which tracks airplane traffic across the globe.
The tracking service said the flight involved a seven-year-old Antonov An-148 aircraft.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said all possible causes for the crash were being looked into.
Russian President Vladimir Putin put off a planned trip to Sochi in order to closely monitor the investigation. Putin was to meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Monday in the Black Sea resort, where the president has an official residence.
Instead, Abbas will meet with Putin in Moscow later on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Sunday afternoon that the U.S. “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,” the statement said.
TASS reported that the passenger plane had been flying since 2010, but was put into storage during 2015-2017 because of a lack of parts. According to the news agency, the plane re-entered service for Saratov Airlines in February 2017. The plane was ordered by Rossiya Airlines, a subsidiary of Aeroflot.
Shabby equipment and poor supervision had plagued Russian civil aviation for years after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, but its safety record has improved markedly in recent years.
The last large-scale crash in Russia occurred on Dec. 25, 2016, when a Tu-154 operated by the Russian Defense Ministry on its way to Syria crashed into the Black Sea minutes after takeoff 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.
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