(RUSSIAN, LANKAPUVATH) –A plane carrying 71 people plunged to the ground shortly after taking off from Moscow on Sunday (Feb. 11), and Russian media said all of the passengers were feared dead. The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known.
The plane was operated by Saratov Airlines, an 87-year-old Russian carrier that mostly flies domestic routes. The flight, 6W703, was destined for Orsk, near the border with Kazakhstan.
“The crew and passengers had no chance,” a Russian official told Interfax. Witnesses told the news agency that they saw a plane in flames. Wreckage was spotted in a field near Moscow.
Flightradar24, which tracks commercial airfare, reported that the plane was falling 22,000 feet per minute when it sent its last signal. It had taken off from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport roughly five minutes earlier. The plane was an Antonov An-148, which are built in Ukraine.
There were 65 passengers and 6 crew members aboard the flight.
Russian airlines have frequently been cited for safety lapses. Saratov was briefly banned from operating international flights in 2015 when inspectors found a person in the cockpit who was not part of the airline’s flight crew.