A Russian plane carrying 71 people crashed shortly after takeoff in the Moscow region on Sunday afternoon, most likely killing all onboard, according to local news reports.
Flight 703, operated by Saratov Airlines, was carrying 65 passengers and six crew members from Domodedovo Airport to Orsk when it went down near the village of Argunovo, about 50 miles southeast of Moscow, the Sputnik news agency reported.
Fragments of the plane and many bodies were discovered near the village of Stepanovskoe, the official news agency Tass, reported, citing a spokesman for the Emergencies Ministry.
The Russian aviation authority, Rosaviatsia, confirmed that the plane, an AN-148 aircraft, departed at 2:21 p.m. from Domodedovo Airport for Orsk — about 1,000 miles southeast of Moscow — and disappeared from radar shortly after.
“Several minutes after takeoff, radio connection with the crew disappeared, the plane’s mark disappeared from radars,” the agency said in a statement.
The ministry said in a statement that “rescue workers, ambulances and firefighters” headed to the site of the crash, an open field about 25 miles from the airport. It was unclear if there were any casualties on the ground.
“The snow is deep, we need heavy-duty equipment,” Andrei Kulakov, head of the Ramenskoe District, where the plane went down, said in an interview broadcast by the news channel Rossiya 24.
President Vladimir V. Putin expressed his condolences and ordered his cabinet to create a commission to investigate the crash, according to the state-run news agency RIA Novosti.
In December 2016, a Russian aircraft bound for Syria carrying a military band to entertain Russia’s forces there crashed into the Black Sea moments after takeoff, killing all 92 people aboard.
In October 2015, a Russian charter flight ferrying 224 passengers and crew members to St. Petersburg from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, crashed soon after taking off, killing everyone on board.
After months of cautious silence, Egypt acknowledged that terrorists had most likely brought down the plane.
Saratov Airlines has a fleet of 12 airplanes — five AN-148s among them. (NYTimes reports)