Regional jet had disappeared from radar screens shortly after takeoff
A Russian passenger plane believed to be carrying 71 people crashed Sunday afternoon near Moscow, shortly after takeoff from one of the city's airports. No survivors were immediately reported.
The An-148 regional jet disappeared from radar screens a few minutes after departing from Domodedovo Airport en route to the city of Orsk, some 1,500 kilometres southeast of Moscow. The plane reportedly belonged to Saratov Airlines, a Russian commercial carrier.
A Russian An-148 aircraft is seen at Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg in 2012. (Anatoly Maltsev/EPA)
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.
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.