Plane Crash Outside Moscow; 71 Dead

A plane crashed just outside of Moscow on Sunday, killing all of the 71 people on board. Saratov Airlines flight 6W703 came down just minutes after taking off from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, crashing roughly 80km south of Moscow near the town of Argunovo. Passengers were on their way to Orsk, a city close to the border with Kazakhstan. 

Those who witnessed the crash said that the an Antonov An-148 aircraft was in flames as it fell out of the sky. 65 of the victims were passengers and the remaining 6 were crew members. It was declared by the emergency services that there were no survivors. 

Vladamir Putin has given his condolences to the families and friends of the victims and established a special mission to investigate the incident. 

Five minutes after take-off, flight-tracking site Flightradar24 tweeted that the plane had begun a descent of 1,000 meters per minute. The flight then went off radar. 

According to local news, unnamed investigators have said that the pilot reported a technical problem after take-off and requested clearance for an emergency landing at nearby Zhukovsky International Airport, though this report has not been confirmed by officials. Other reports say one of the planes engines may have exploded while in the air. 

The country has been experiencing heavy snowfall in recent days, and visibility was reportedly poor. Russian media reported that the emergency services could not drive to the scene, instead having to walk there. The services stated that over 150 rescue workers were deployed. 

Governor of the Orenburg region, where the plane was going to, told Russian news that more than 60 people on board were from there. Orenburg news sources broadcast scenes of distressed relatives at Orsk airport. Andrei Odintsov, the Mayor of the city of Orsk, told local news that 6 psychologists and 4 ambulances were working with the affected. 

Plane crashes are a common occurrence in Russia, with airliners using aged planes in challenging conditions. Last November, a light aircraft crashed in the East of the country, killing 6. 

In December 2016, a military plane carrying Russia’s Red Army Choir went down near the black sea resort of Sochi. The choir was due to perform to Russian troops operating in Syria. 

Earlier that year in March, another jet crashed during an aborted landing at Rostov-on-Don airport, killing all 62 on board. Challenging weather was put at the cause.

By Tom Day

13 February 2018 12:17