A Saratov Airlines plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Moscow’s Domodedevo Airport en route to Orsk, Russia on Sunday, killing all 71 passengers onboard. The plane, an Antonov An-148, appears to have been on fire, according to reports by people who saw it, and the videos of the wreckage show it to be in small pieces scattered over a wide area. It appears that the plane disintegrated in flight. Right now most information is scanty and the investigation and recovery efforts are slowed due to cold weather and an unusually heavy snowcover after the major snowstorms in the region last week. Initial reports suggesting the plane collided with a helicopter, or that the pilot requested an emergency landing at Zhukovsky airport nearby have both been confirmed as false.
What is known is that the plane, flight 6W703, was at around 6,500 feet (1,800 meters) of altitude in its initial climbout from Domodedevo. It then abruptly descended by over 900 feet, then regained its altitude briefly before simply dropping off radar. This is consistent with some sort of catastrophic engine failure.
Later Sunday, the Emergencies Ministry published the full list of all 71 people killed in the crash. Among them were three foreigners and three children. The captain was Valery Gubanov, who had 5,000 accumulated flight hours of experience.
Investigation will continue until the causes are known and the recovery of victims is complete. Our thoughts and prayers go with the victims of this horrible tragedy, and also for their families and loved ones. We will bring updates as they are made available.