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Russian plane crashes near Moscow, killing 71

Staff Writer |
A Russian airliner has crashed after leaving Moscow's Domodedovo airport, killing all 65 passengers and six crew on board.

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The Saratov Airlines jet vanished minutes after take-off and crashed near the village of Argunovo, about 80km (50 miles) south-east of Moscow.

The cause of crash is unclear. Investigators and emergency crews are working at the snow-covered site. The Antonov An-148 was en route to the city of Orsk in the Ural mountains.

Pieces of wreckage and bodies were found spread over a large area. One of the flight recorders has been recovered, officials reportedly said.

President Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences to the victims' families and announced an inquiry into the cause of the crash.

The plane took off at 14:27 (11:27 GMT) on Sunday. Contact was lost four minutes later.

Flight-tracking site Flightradar24 said it then descended at the rate of 1,000m (3,300ft) per minute.

Eyewitnesses told Russian media that the jet was on fire as it plummeted.

Investigators reportedly said the causes they were considering included weather conditions, human error and technical failure - but they did not mention the possibility of terrorism.

Investigation at a crash site of the An-148 airplane will take several days, the Investigative Committee said on Monday in a statement.

The committee’s Chairman Alexander Bastrykin held a meeting at the crash site and ordered the area to be scrutinized.

“In view of a vast territory that should be inspected, it will take not a single day, and the work will be done in a non-stop regime until it is completed,” the statement read.

The Emergency Situations Ministry confirmed that two foreign citizens were on board of the ill-fated plane. A deputy of the city council of Norilsk, Sergei Panchenko, was also among the victims.

Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova said that search for bodies will be held for a week. “It’s quite a lengthy process, which will probably take about seven days,” she said.

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