Moscow news: Russian plane crashes near city, killing all 71 on board

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A part of a Saratov Airlines Antonov AN-148 plane that crashed after taking off from Moscow's Domodedovo airport, is seen at the scene of the incident outside Moscow, Russia February 11, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

All 71 people on board a Russian passenger jet died when the plane crashed shortly after taking off from Moscow Sunday.

Saratov Airlines flight 703 was headed to the city of Orsk in central Russia when it crashed 40 miles outside the Russian capital. The plane departed from Moscow at 2:21 p.m. local time, but after a few minutes, it lost radio contact and disappeared from air traffic control radars.

Russian authorities have confirmed that no one survived the tragedy. “According to preliminary information, nobody survived,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

The passenger plane was carrying 65 passengers, including three children, as well as six crew members. A day of mourning has been declared in Orenburg, the region where many of the passengers were from, and where Orsk is located.

Russia’s emergency ministry has called off the rescue operations and is now focusing on recovering remains and debris from the crash site. A cockpit recorder and parts of the fuselage were retrieved from the site, while fragments of the plane, along with several bodies, were found in the nearby village of Stepanovskoye.

Hundreds of emergency responders are working through deep snow in order to retrieve debris from the crashed aircraft, which are scattered over a radius of a kilometer from the crash site. The debris will aid officials in the investigation to determine the cause of the crash.

Russian authorities said it was too early to determine the cause of the crash. According to preliminary reports, the plane’s pilots did not report any technical problems or activate a mayday call.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the creation of a special commission to investigate the crash. According to Russian Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko, a criminal investigation has been launched. Among the possible causes that authorities are looking into are weather conditions, human error, and the plane’s technical condition.