Investigators hunt for clues as Moscow plane crash leaves no survivors
Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 12 February 2018| 25 Jumadul Ula 1439
Investigators will on Monday examine numerous possible causes of one of Russia’s worst ever aviation accidents that saw a passenger plane carrying 71 people crash near Moscow minutes after takeoff, killing everyone on board.
Russia’s Investigative Committee said it would consider explanations including human error, technical failure and weather conditions, as the country has experienced record snowfall in recent weeks. But it did not mention the possibility of terrorism.
The Antonov An-148 plane went down in the Ramensky district on the outskirts of Moscow at 2:48 pm (1128 GMT) on Sunday after taking off from Domodedovo airport in the capital.
“Sixty-five passengers and six crew members were on board, and all of them died,” Russia’s office of transport investigations said in a statement
Three children were among the fatalities on a list published by Russian authorities.
The flight was operated by the domestic Saratov Airlines and was headed for Orsk, a city in the Ural Mountains.
The airline said the captain on the ill-fated flight, Valery Gubanov, was an experienced pilot who had accumulated 5,000 flight hours. Two technicians who conducted the last maintenance of the plane were also reportedly on board the aircraft at the time of the crash, according to Saratov transport prosecutor’s office.
More than 400 people and 70 vehicles had been deployed to the crash site, the country’s emergency ministry said.
The site was enveloped in heavy snow, making it difficult to access, with emergency workers forced to park their vehicles and reach the wreckage by foot. Others used snowmobiles and drones to survey the scene.
Russian transport minister Maksim Sokolov said “genetic expertise” would be needed to help identify the victims, adding that it could “take two or three months”.
Domodedovo air traffic control lost contact with Saratov Airlines flight 703, bound for Orsk, several minutes after takeoff, an official from Russia’s Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) told local media. He said communication with the crew was cut and the plane vanished from radar screens.
Earlier in the day, debris was spotted from the air. Emergency services immediately deployed rapid response teams to the reported crash site, but rescuers and medics had to reach it on foot, walking through the countryside buried under snow.
Preliminary reports say the wreckage is spread across an area between adjacent villages. The Emergencies Ministry said the search-and-rescue operation will work around the clock, with the crash site observed by drones.
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