RUSSIAN emergency workers recovered both data recorders today from a crashed passenger plane that came down minutes after takeoff yesterday afternoon, killing all 71 people on board.
The jet was flying from Moscow’s Domodedovo airport to Orsk in the southern Urals. Most of the 65 passengers, aged from five to 79, were from Orsk.
Investigators have ruled out terrorism but won’t speculate as to what might have caused the crash. They said that they believe the plane was intact and that there had been no fire on board before it hit the ground.
The plane’s fuel tanks exploded when it crashed, scattering debris and bodies over 74 acres covered in deep snow. Officials believe it will take a week to find the remains of all of the victims.
Saratov Airlines said that the plane, an Antonov An-148 jet built in 2010, had received proper maintenance and passed all the necessary pre-flight checks.
Saratov has grounded all its other An-148s, but the crash has reopened questions about the model’s safety record. There had been one previous crash and several major incidents in which pilots had struggled to land safely.
The crashed plane was made in Russia under licence from Antonov, which is owned by the Ukrainian government.
Production in Russia was halted last year because of low demand, and airlines, including Saratov, have reported finding it difficult to acquire spare parts.
Some companies have had to cannibalise some of their An-148s in order to keep others flying.
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