A commercial airliner with 71 people on board crashed near Moscow on Sunday, and Russia’s transportation minister Maxim Sololov said that “judging by everything, no one has survived.”
The Antonov An-148 regional jet belonging to Russian carrier Saratov Airlines plunged into a field after disappearing from radar screens a few minutes after departing from Domodedovo Airport en route to the city of Orsk in Orenburg region, some 1,500 kilometres southeast of Moscow.
Plane fragments were found in the Ramenskoye area about 40 kilometres from the airport. Footage on state television showed them strewn across a snowy field with no buildings nearby. It was unclear if there were any casualties among people on the ground at the crash site.
Russian officials said all of the passengers are believed to have been residents of Orenburg region. Global Affairs Canada said its officials in Moscow are in contact with local authorities and added no Canadian citizens have been reported to be among the victims.
Russia’s state news agency Tass said the plane had been in operation since 2010, with a two-year break from 2015-2017 because of a shortage of parts.
The jet was developed by Ukraine’s Antonov company in the early 2000s, and was manufactured in both Ukraine and Russia. The short-haul jet was ordered by Rossiya Airlines, a subsidiary of Aeroflot. Tass reports it re-entered service for Saratov Airlines in February 2017.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said all possible crash causes were being looked into.
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 defence 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.
An onboard bomb destroyed a Russian Metrojet airliner soon after taking off from Egypt’s Sharm al-Sheikh resort, killing 244 people in October 2015.
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