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(File pix) Rescuers and investigators searching for debris and human remains at the site of the crashed Russian Saratov Airlines Antonov An-148 near Stepanovskoy village in Moscow on Sunday. EPA-EFE Photo

MOSCOW: Investigators will examine possible causes of one of Russia’s worst aviation accidents that saw a passenger plane carrying 71 people crash near here minutes after take off, killing everyone on board.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said it would consider explanations including human error, technical failure and weather conditions, as the country had experienced record snowfall in recent weeks. But it did not mention the possibility of terrorism.

The Saratov Airlines Antonov An-148 went down in the Ramensky district on the outskirts here on Sunday after taking off from Domodedovo airport.

“Sixty-five passengers and six crew members were on board. All died,” Russia’s Office of Transport Investigations said.

The victims include three children.

Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov said “genetic expertise” would be needed to identify the victims, adding that it could “take two or three months”.

“I felt a shock wave. The windows shook,” Maria, a resident of a village near the crash site, said.

The investigations office said the plane disappeared from radar screens several minutes after take-off.

The site of the crash was enveloped in heavy snow that was waist-high in places, making it difficult to access, with emergency workers forced to reach the wreckage by foot and use snowmobiles.

The Emergency Services Ministry said at least one of the two black boxes had been found.

With wreckage of the plane spread over more than 30ha, it would take a week to inspect the area, the Emergency Services Ministry said. -- AFP

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