In this screen grab provided by the Life.ru, the wreckage of a AN-148 plane is seen in Stepanovskoye village, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Domodedovo airport, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018. Russia’s Emergencies Ministry says a passenger plane has crashed near Moscow and fragments of it have been found. (Life.ru via AP)

Emergency teams search for victims of fatal Russian plane crash

The plane was headed from Moscow to Orsk

Emergency teams combed the snowy fields outside Moscow on Monday, searching for debris from a crashed Russian airliner and the remains of the 71 people aboard it who died.

The An-148 twin-engine regional jet bound for Orsk in the southern Urals went down minutes after taking off from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport Sunday afternoon. All 65 passengers and 6 crew on board were killed.

Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said the search for victims’ remains will take a week. He noted that emergency teams already have found the plane’s flight data recorder, which is crucial for determining the crash’s cause.

Russian investigators quickly ruled out a terror attack but will not speculate on possible reasons for the crash.

Still the crash Sunday re-ignited questions about the An-148, since the model’s safety record is spotty, with one previous crash and a series of major incidents in which pilots struggled to land safely.

The Investigative Committee, Russia’s premier state investigative agency, said the plane was intact and there had been no fire on board before it hit the ground.

The plane’s fuel tanks exploded on impact, scattering debris across 30 hectares (74 acres) in deep snow, according to the Emergency Ministry, which used drones to direct the search.

The 65 passengers ranged in age from 5 to 79, according to a list posted by the Russian Emergencies Ministry. Most victims were from Orsk, where the authorities declared an official day of mourning on Monday.

The plane was operated by Saratov Airlines, which said the plane had received proper maintenance and passed all the necessary checks before the flight. The plane was built in 2010 for a different airline that operated it for several years before putting it in storage. Saratov Airlines commissioned it last year.

The airline said the plane’s captain had more than 5,000 hours of flying time, 2,800 of them in an An-148. The other pilot had 812 hours of experience, largely in that model.

The An-148 once was touted as an example of Russian-Ukrainian co-operation, but it fell into trouble as relations between the two neighbours unraveled following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

It was developed by Ukraine’s Antonov company in the early 2000s. About 40 were built, most of them in Russia that manufactured the plane under license.

Along with several commercial carriers, the An-148 was operated by the Russian Defence Ministry and several other government agencies. Ukraine’s president has used the plane for some of his trips.

But the plane’s production in Russia was halted last year because of low demand and media reports indicated that some carriers, including the Saratov Airlines, were experiencing a shortage of spares. Some airlines reportedly had to cannibalize some of their planes to keep others airworthy.

Among the major problems, in March 2011 an An-148 crashed during a training flight in Russia, killing all six crew on board. Investigators blamed pilot error.

In 2010, another An-148 operated by a Russian carrier suffered a major failure of its control system but its crew managed to land safely.

Last September, a Saratov Airlines An-148 had one of its engines shut down minutes after takeoff, but landed safely. And in October, another An-148 that belonged to a different Russian carrier suffered an engine fire on takeoff but managed to land.

The last large airline crash in Russia occurred on Dec. 25, 2016, when a Tu-154 operated by the Russian Defence Ministry on its way to Syria crashed into the Black Sea minutes after takeoff from Sochi. All 92 people on board were killed.

The probe into that crash is still ongoing, but officials have indicated that a pilot error appeared to be the reason.

Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press

Just Posted

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

VIDEO: Fire crew mopping up workshop fire near Golden Ears Bridge

Structure fire at 208 and 102B sending plumes of black smoke into air above Walnut Grove

Two Giants picked to play against Russia

Two of Langley’s junior hockey players will be part of the six-game Canada Russia Series next month.

VIDEO: Tributes for the man known as the “Mormon Giant”

Langley champion professional wrestler passes away

Two Langley mayoral campaigns endorsed by anti-SOGI groups

Jack Froese unsure why he’s been singled out; SOGI not a municipal issue, says Peter Fassbender

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

MCFD, FPSSS restricts caregivers from smoking, growing cannabis around children-in-care

Ministry restricts cannabis use for caregivers, stating it may “pose a risk to children and youth.”

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Only 40% of B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

‘A little odd’ B.C.’s biggest city celebrates cannabis without a legal store

On the streets of downtown Vancouver, notably the Wild West of illegal marijuana, not a single legal store opened Wednesday, making for a rather anticlimatic kick-off

Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

B.C. has only one bricks-and-mortar marijuana store

After 50 years, ‘Sesame Street’ Big Bird puppeteer retiring

The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on “Sesame Street” is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.

Most Read