Emergency workers in Russia searched snow-covered fields outside Moscow on Monday, looking for body fragments and clues after a fatal plane crash a day earlier killed all 71 people on board. President Vladimir Putin has ordered a special commission to investigate what caused the AN-148 plane operated by Saratov Airlines to crash outside Moscow shortly after taking off for the city of Orsk in the Orenburg region, about 900 miles (1,500 km) southeast of the capital.
Among the possible causes investigators are looking into are weather conditions, human error and the plane’s technical condition. The plane’s crew did not send any distress signals. Experts are analysing a flight recorder recovered in the wreckage as well as plane fragments. Footage from a CCTV camera which captured some of what happened was posted online on Monday. It showed what looked like a large ball of fire streaking through the sky.
Debris and human remains are spread over a radius of a kilometre around the crash site, investigators have said. Officials from Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry told a meeting broadcast on state TV on Monday that DNA tests were being organised with the relatives of those killed to try to identify body fragments. The plane, manufactured in 2010, had been carrying 65 passengers and six crew. The passenger list showed many young people were on board, including a five-year-old girl.