LONDON — A Russian passenger plane crashed shortly after leaving a Moscow airport Sunday, killing all 71 people on board, Russia’s Transport Ministry said.
The ministry said that there were no survivors among the 65 passengers and six crew members aboard the short-haul flight. The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry told Reuters that two bodies had been found at the site of the plane crash. NBC News was unable to immediately verify the report.
The Saratov Airlines flight was heading from Moscow to the city of Orsk near the Kazakhstan border before plummeting to the ground outside the capital.
Russian officials said all passengers aboard the airliner are believed to have been residents of the Orenburg region, where the plane was headed, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
The Russian Ministry for Civil Defense said the plane crashed in the Ramenskoye area, which is around 25 miles southeast of Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. Russian emergency services were on the scene, with over 150 people deployed to deal with the incident, the ministry said.
Footage and stills from news agencies showed fragments strewn across a snowy field with no buildings nearby.
The Saratov Airlines flight #6W703 crashed around five minutes after take off and was falling with up to 22,000 feet per minute, according to Flightradar24, which tracks airplane traffic across the globe.
The tracking service said the flight involved a seven-year-old Antonov An-148 aircraft.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said all possible causes for the crash were being looked into.
TASS reported that the passenger plane had been flying since 2010, but was put into storage during 2015-2017 because of a lack of parts. According to the news agency, the plane re-entered service for Saratov Airlines in February 2017. The plane was ordered by Rossiya Airlines, a subsidiary of Aeroflot.
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 Defense 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.
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