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Thursday 18 October 2018

71 killed as Russian airliner crashes moments after take-off

The twin-engine aircraft plunged into a field about 25 miles from Domodedovo Airport, just outside Moscow.

Rescue workers at the scene of the crash (AP)
Rescue workers at the scene of the crash (AP)

By Jim Heintz

A Russian airliner has crashed moments after taking off from the country’s second-busiest airport, killing all 71 people on board.

The pilots of the An-148 regional jet did not report any problems before the twin-engine aircraft plunged into the field about 25 miles from Domodedovo Airport, just outside Moscow, authorities said.

The Saratov Airlines flight disappeared from radar just minutes after its departure for the city of Orsk, some 1,000 miles to the south-east.

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The 65 passengers ranged in age from five to 79, officials said (AP)

Russian transport minister Maxim Sokolov confirmed that there were no survivors.

The 65 passengers ranged in age from five to 79, according to a list posted by the Russian emergencies ministry. Their nationalities were not confirmed. Six crew members were also on board.

Emergency workers combed through the field while investigators searched for clues to what might have brought the jet down. One of the flight recorders was recovered, Russian news reports said, but it is not immediately clear if it was the data or voice recorder.

The airport has been the focus of security concerns in the past. Security lapses 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.

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An investigation into the accident is under way (AP)

Investigators also conducted a search at the airline’s main office in Saratov, reports said.

Russia’s investigative committee said all possible causes are being considered. Some reports suggested there were questions about whether the plane had been properly de-iced. Moderate snow was falling in much of Moscow at the time of the crash.

Airline spokeswoman Elena Voronova told the state news agency RIA Novosti that one of the pilots had more than 5,000 hours of flying time, 2,800 of them in an An-148. The other pilot had 812 hours of experience, largely in that model of plane.

President Vladimir Putin has put off a planned trip to Sochi to monitor the investigation.

Press Association

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