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Russian minister: 71 die in plane crash near Moscow

Saratov Airlines Flight 703 with 71 people aboard goes down near Moscow soon after take-off from Domodedovo airport.

Emergency services work

A passenger plane carrying 71 people crashed minutes after take-off from Moscow's Domodedovo airport killing everyone on board.

Saratov Airlines Flight 703 went down on Sunday near Ramenskoye town, about 40km from Moscow's second-largest airport.

Maxim Sololov, Russia's transportation minister, confirmed there were no survivors.

The Antonov An-148 aircraft had 65 passengers and six crew members on board when it went down.

The plane was heading from the Russian capital to Orsk city, about 1,500km away, near the border with Kazakhstan.

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash.

'Technical malfunctions'

Russian investigators said "no reports about technical malfunctions were received from the plane's crew" ahead of the crash.

The Russian transport ministry was investigating possible causes including weather conditions and pilot error, Interfax news agency said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin extended his condolences to those who lost relatives in the crash.

"The president has instructed the government to set up a special commission over the plane crash in the Moscow region," Tass news agency quoted Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov as saying.

A source from the emergency services told Interfax the airplane had been manufactured less than eight years ago.

Saratov Airlines is one of a number of small regional airlines operating in Russia.  

Plane crashes are not uncommon in Russia.

In December 2016, a military plane carrying Russia's Red Army Choir went down after taking off from the Black Sea resort of Sochi, killing all 92 people on board. Pilot error was blamed for that crash.

A plane carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team skidded off the runway during take-off and slammed into a tower in Septemer 2011, killing 44 players and staff in the city of Yaroslavl. One crew member survived.

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