71 killed as Russian passenger plane crashes near Moscow


"Eyewitnesses have said they saw the plane crash into the ground and was reportedly on fire", The Daily Star reported.

Authorities have started questioning Saratov Airlines employees and the Domodedovo Airport workers who prepared the plane for flight, Petrenko said.

Search teams are attempting to sift through the wreckage, according to an emergencies source, who added that numerous bodies were "mangled" and "not intact".

September 14: Eighty-eight people are killed when a Aeroflot Boeing-737 crashes on approach to Perm International Airport near the Ural Mountains.

Plane crashes are common in Russian Federation, where airlines often operate ageing aircraft in testing flying conditions. Officials have not confirmed the report.

The flight-tracking site Flightradar24 tweeted that the seven-year-old passenger jet had gone into a steep descent of 1,000 metres (3,300ft) a minute five minutes after take-off, after which it had vanished from radars. The Russian Emergencies Ministry said on Twitter that the recovery process would require 150 people and 20 vehicles. Wreckage of the plane was spread over a wide area around the crash site.

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Russian Federation has struggled with a poor airline safety record for years.

The Saratov Airlines Flight 6W703 was carrying 71 people, disappeared from the radar after taking off from Moscow at 11:22 UTC time.

Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said Sunday afternoon that "judging by everything, no one has survived this crash".

It's unclear what caused the crash, but possibilities vary from weather conditions to pilot error involving a technical malfunction.

It is said to have come down near the village of Argunovo, in the Ramenskoye District some 80 kilometres southeast of Moscow and 60 kilometres from Domodedovo.

Images broadcast on state TV showed relatives waiting at Orsk airport, some with their heads in their hands.