Passenger plane crashes near Moscow with 71 aboard

Plane AN-148-100 V

Plane AN-148-100 V

There were also six crew members aboard, the source added.

The aircraft crashed near the Argunovo village, about 80 km south-east of Moscow, according to the local Interfax news agency.

Images which have emerged on Russian media show what appears to be debris from the plane in the snow.

Shabby equipment and poor supervision had plagued Russian civil aviation for years after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, but its safety record has improved markedly in recent years.

The Russian-made plane was seven-years-old at the time of the crash and the airline purchased it about a year ago. Rescuers have already found the crash site.

Mr Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said: "The president has instructed the government to set up a special commission over the plane crash in the Moscow region". Other reports said one of the plane's engines may have exploded before the crash. Emergency services officials have told BBC that there was no chance of any survivors.

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The flight path of the crashed Saratov Airlines flight. Russia's Investigative Committee will consider all possible causes, RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Russian Federation has struggled with a poor airline safety record for years.

Andrei Odintsov, the mayor of the city of Orsk, told Russian state television that six psychologists and four ambulances with medics are working with the relatives in the small airport.

The plane was headed to the Russian city of Orsk, near the border with Kazakhstan.

Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations confirmed that the plane crashed on Sunday a few minutes after taking off. Some reports said all 71 people on board are believed to be dead, while some outlets are conservatively saying that at least two bodies have been found in the wreckage. Many theories are being thrown around such as a bad weather condition or a pilot error which costed 71 lives.

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