Fragments of crashed passenger airliner 'found near Moscow'

Fragments of crashed passenger airliner 'found near Moscow'

Fragments of crashed passenger airliner 'found near Moscow'

A source told Russian news agency TASS that the An-148 plane crash might have been due to a technical malfunction, a pilot's error or the weather.

All 71 people on board a passenger plane died when it "broke up in the sky" just minutes after taking off from Moscow Airport.

An emergency ministry spokesman told the TASS state news service that the crash occurred near the village of Stepanovskoye. While the cause of the crash remains uncertain, the Investigative Committee of Russian Federation said officials have launched a criminal investigation.

Flight 703 was en route to Orsk, a Russian city near the border of Kazakhstan.

It was unclear whether there were any casualties among people on the ground at the crash site. The cockpit voice recorder and parts of the fuselage also have been retrieved from the crash site, Russia's Emergencies Ministry reported.

Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov said it could take "two or three months" to identify all of the victims. It was first operated by Rossiya Airlines, including on worldwide routes, and then was leased to Saratov Airlines. "The crew and passengers had no chance", a source was quoted as saying Interfax news agency. The passengers all were from the Orsk region, Interfax reported.

Authorities have started questioning Saratov Airlines employees and the Domodedovo Airport workers who prepared the plane for flight, Petrenko said.

First images show by of what is reportedly the accident scene of Saratov Airlines flight #6W703 near Moscow.

The Russian-made aircraft was seven years old and had been purchased by Saratov Airlines from another Russian airline a year ago, according to Agence France-Presse.

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