A passenger aircraft with 71 on board crashed shortly after takeoff outside Moscow on Sunday and fragments of it have been found, Russian media reported.
The plane was an An-148, a regional jet belonging to Saratov Airlines, that had taken off from Domodedovo Airport and was headed to Orsk about 1,000 miles southeast of Moscow, REN-TV reported.
Russia’s Interfax and TASS News Agencies said all 71 people were feared to be dead.
A source from Russia’s emergency services told Interfax those on board “had no chance” of survival, and that the wreckage from the plane was spread over a wide area around the crash site.
Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his condolences to the families of those killed, and ordered an investigation into the crash, according to Interfax.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a statement that Putin “expresses deep condolences to all those who lost their relatives and friends in this disaster.”
“The president instructed the government to set up a special commission in connection with the plane crash in the Moscow region and instructed the relevant agencies to conduct the necessary search operations,” Peskov told Interfax.
Fragments of the jet were found in the Ramenskoye area about 25 miles from the airport, according to REN-TV. 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.
The flight took off from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport and spent about 5 minutes in the air before a signal was lost about 12 miles southeast of the airport, according to Flightradar24, a flight-tracking website.
Witnesses in the village told local media they saw a burning plane falling from the sky, according to Sky News.
A local resident told REN-TV she heard an explosion.
“I left the house, saw the plane, an explosion was heard and the sky turned red,” the unnamed woman told the television station.
The Russian Emergencies Ministry said in a tweet the recovery process would involve 150 people and 20 vehicles, and that the crash scene was only accessible on foot due to weather conditions.
It is not immediately clear what caused the crash, with weather conditions and pilot error said to be among the possible reasons. Russia’s Investigative Committee said all possible crash causes were being looked into.
Russia’s state news agency Tass said the plane had been flying since 2010, with a two-year break because of a shortage of parts.
The plane, an Antonov An-148 jet, was ordered by Rossiya Airlines, a subsidiary of Aeroflot, but was put into storage during 2015-2017 because of a lack of parts. Tass reports it re-entered service for Saratov Airlines in February 2017. The jet was developed by Ukraine’s Antonov company in the early 2000s, and was manufactured in both Ukraine and Russia.
While it remains to be seen what caused the crash on Sunday, 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.