Passenger plane crashes near Russia’s capital

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A passenger plane with 71 people on board has crashed after taking off from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, local media reported.

All on board the Saratov Airlines plane are feared dead after crashing near Ramenskoe town, about 40km from Moscow’s second-largest airport, on Sunday.

Emergency services confirmed finding debris of the Antonov An-148 on the outskirts of the capital, Russia’s Tass news agency reported.

The plane was heading from Moscow to Orsk city, carrying 65 passengers and six crew members, according to Interfax news agency.

“Debris has been found, there are no survivors,” Tass quoted an unidentified emergency services source as saying.

Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov and rescue services were trying to reach the crash site.

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash. The Russian Transport Ministry was considering various possible reasons, including weather conditions and a pilot error, Interfax said.

“Witnesses said they saw a burning plane falling out of the sky,” said Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from Moscow. “I’ve just been watching footage that seems to be from the crash site being aired on Russian TV – a snowy field and the yellow wreckage of this plane.”

Another source from the emergency services told Interfax the airplane was manufactured less than eight years ago.

“First it was used by Rossiya Airlines where it carried out international flights among others and later it was given to Saratov Airlines,” he said.

He said the handover took place as part of a subleasing agreement involving four planes of the same type, with a capacity of 83 seats.

Plane crashes are not uncommon in Russia.

In December 2016, a military plane carrying Russia’s Red Army Choir crashed after taking off from the Black Sea resort of Sochi, killing all 92 people on board. Pilot error was blamed for that crash.

A plane carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team skidded off the runway during take-off and slammed into a tower in Septemer 2011, killing 44 players and staff in the city of Yaroslavl. One person survived.

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