71 Dead After Russian Passenger Plane Crashes Near Moscow

Fact checked by The People's Voice Community

A Russian passenger plane crashed shortly after leaving a Moscow airport on Sunday, killing all 71 people on board.

The Saratov Airlines flight carrying 65 passengers and six crew members vanished minutes after take-off and crashed near the village of Argunovo, about 80km (50 miles) south-east of Moscow.

Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said: “Judging by everything, no one has survived this crash”

One of the passengers listed among the dead just happened to be Ivanov Vyacheslav, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Rosatom. Rosatom by the way is the Russian nuclear company involved in Hillary Clinton’s Uranium One deal…..just a coincidence right?

RT reports: Domodedovo air traffic control lost contact with Saratov Airlines flight 703, bound for Orsk, several minutes after take off, 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.

Sixty-five passengers were on board the plane, along with six crew. Later on Sunday, the Emergencies Ministry published the full list of all 71 people killed in the crash. Among them were three children and three foreigners, reportedly citizens of Switzerland, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

Later, the airline said the captain on the ill-fated flight, Valery Gubanov, was an experienced pilot who had accumulated 5,000 flight hours.

It is premature to say what caused the crash and investigators say they have not yet pinpointed a single version of events. The debris and dead bodies are scattered over a wide area, and rescue efforts are complicated by the snowfall and strong winds that have gripped the Moscow region this Sunday.

Later in the day, a flight recorder with the plane’s flight parameters has been found at the An-148’s crash site, the emergency operational headquarters has said. Preliminary reports indicate the pilots did not report any technical failures, nor did they activate a mayday call, according to Russia’s Investigative Committee.

A number of Russian agencies will probe the airline’s safety and maintenance standards, as well as the operations of Domodedovo air traffic control. Observers say every investigation of such a tragedy should focus on three main issues.

“You know, we’re dealing with the weather, we’re dealing with the crew, what was their training like, did they have enough rest before … sadly, in today’s world, we’re going to be listening and looking for anything that could’ve been a threat of terrorism on board,” Mark Weiss, former American Airlines captain and aviation expert, told RT.

He said investigating the role of weather conditions and de-icing is equally crucial. “Pilots are trained to deal with crises, and every take-off is predicated on some type of catastrophic event … so what [the investigators] are going to be looking for is certainly the weather factor [and] was the airplane properly de-iced,” Weiss said.

The crash might have been caused by weather conditions, human error or technical failure, according to TASS, citing an emergency source. However, the source said there were no extreme weather conditions in the Moscow region at the time.


Niamh Harris
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