There appear to be "no survivors" among the 71 people aboard a Russian plane that crashed in a snow-covered field and broke into pieces four minutes after taking off from Moscow, the Russian transport minister said. Three children were among the fatalities on a list published by Russian authorities.
The pilots of the An-148 regional jet did not report any problems before the twin-engine aircraft plunged into the field about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Domodedovo Airport, authorities said. The Saratov Airlines flight disappeared from radar just minutes after departure for the city of Orsk, some 1,500 kilometers (1,000 miles) to the southeast.
"Several minutes after takeoff, radio connection with the crew disappeared, the plane’s mark disappeared from radars," the Emergency Situations Ministry said. FlightRadar24, an online site that tracks real-time flight information, shows the plane losing altitude just six minutes after takeoff. It reached 6,400 feet before dropping to 5,800 feet, rising again briefly and falling sharply — all within one minute.
Emergency workers combed through the field while investigators descended on the airport to search for clues to what brought the jet down. One of the flight recorders was recovered, Russian news reports said, but it was not immediately clear if it was the data or voice recorder.
The airport has been the focus of security concerns in the past. Security lapses came under sharp criticism in 2004, after Chechen suicide bombers destroyed two airliners that took off from the airport on the same evening, killing a total of 90 people. A 2011 bombing in the arrivals area killed 37 people.
Almost all of the people on the plane were from the eastern part of the Orenburg region, according to the regional governor's office, the Interfax news agency said. Orenburg lies on the southern end of the Ural Mountains.