A five-year-old girl and her mother were among 71 people who died when a Russian passenger plane crashed near Moscow shortly after taking off.
Nadezhda Krasova, five, the youngest victim in the crash, died along with her mother Oksana Krasova, 32, after the Antonov An-148 airliner broke up in mid-air, according to eyewitness reports.
Two bodies were yesterday found at the site of a Russian plane crash, an official at the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said.
A plane operated by Russia’s Saratov Airlines crashed near Moscow. There were 71 people on board and all of them are feared dead, the Russian authorities said.
The cockpit voice recorder and parts of the fuselage were also retrieved from the crash site of the Saratov Airlines An-148.
The search-and-rescue operation is ongoing. Special lighting had been set up so the operation could continue into the night, he added. The ministry said the area would be observed by drones.
The Transport Prosecutor’s office said everyone aboard the plane was dead. The Emergencies Ministry released the names of all 71 people on board the ill-fated aircraft.
Russia’s Investigative Committee opened an investigation into the crash
Authorities said all lines of inquiry into the plane crash were open.
Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov flew to the site near Argunovo village in the Moscow region.
The crashed plane was spotted from the air in the countryside near Moscow, a rescue service source told Russia’s RIA news agency.
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 were working at the snow-covered site.
The Antonov An-148 was en route to the city of Orsk in the Ural Mountains.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to the victims’ families and announced an inquiry into the cause of the crash.
Russia’s gazeta.ru website quoted unnamed investigators as saying the pilot had reported a malfunction and requested clearance for an emergency landing.
All 65 passengers were from Orenburg, the Russian region to which the plane was flying, a spokesman for the regional governor told Interfax news agency.
This is the first commercial passenger jet crash for more than a year – 2017 was the safest year on record for air travel.
Saratov Airlines is based in Saratov, 840km south-east of Moscow.
The wreckage of the plane…yesterday
In 2015 it was banned from operating international flights when surprise inspectors found someone other than the flight crew was in the cockpit.
The airline appealed against the ban and changed its policy before resuming international charter flights in 2016.
It flies mainly between Russian cities but also has destinations in Armenia and Georgia.
The crew of the Airlines didn’t report any problems before the plane crashed into snowy terrain, state-run media said.
Three children – ages 5, 13 and 17- were among the passengers, state news agency RIA reported.
“The snow is very dense … the Moscow region has had some of its heaviest snowfall in decades,” CNN’s Matthew Chance reported from Moscow. “It’s not clear at this stage whether weather was factor in this crash.”
Sunday’s crash ends a 440-day streak without a passenger jet airliner fatality — the longest stretch in modern aviation history.