A five-year-old girl and her mother were among 71 people who died when a Russian passenger plane crashed near Moscow shortly after taking off yesterday.
Nadezhda Krasova, five, the youngest victim in the crash, died along with her mother Oksana Krasova, 32, after the Antonov An-148 airliner broke up in mid-air, according to eyewitness reports.
The Saratov Airlines regional jet disappeared from radar screens a few minutes after departing from the capital’s Domodedovo Airport, according to the Mail newspaper. The plane crashed, with 65 passengers and six crew aboard, just a few minutes after setting off Orsk, a city in the Urals, around 1,000 miles southeast of Moscow.
Like many of the victims, Nadezhda and her mother were from Orsk, in Orenburg region, which will mark a day of mourning today. The governor of the Orenburg region, where the plane was flying to, told Russian media that “more than 60 people” on board the plane were from the region.
However, Russian sources said foreigners from Switzerland, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan were also on the doomed flight. Aviation website FlightRadar reported the aircraft was last measured falling at a rate of 22,000ft per minute. Fragments from the Antonov An-148 airliner were found in the Ramenskoye area, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the airport. Footage on state television showed them strewn across a snowy field with no buildings nearby.
Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said yesterday afternoon that “judging by everything, no one has survived this crash.” Russia’s Investigative Committee said all possible causes were being explored.
The crew did not report any problems prior to the plane falling out of the sky, Russian sources said. “No reports about technical malfunctions were received from the plane’s crew,” said Svetlana Petrenko of the Russian Investigative Committee which has launched a criminal investigation into the crash.
Airport staff in Moscow were tonight being quizzed over the way the plane was prepared for its flight, she said. “Investigators are questioning employees of Moscow’s Domodedovo airport who were engaged to prepare the plane for the flight.
“A similar inspection is conducted at the airport’s air traffic control service.” State television aired a video of the crash site, showing parts of the wreckage in the snow. The plane crash left a crater more than 8ft deep and 60ft in diameter, but debris was said to be scattered over more than a half-mile radius.
“I heard a noise… like a roar. It was quite unusual,’ an eyewitness called Alexey said. You know, it sounds very strange when no one is around, when you hear such an unusual roar… I put on my shoes and rushed outside.
“And I saw…an explosion. So big, there was such a cloud. Mushroom-shaped, like a nuclear explosion in miniature. The fragments were flying, burning. One of them was flew right onto me.’
Meanwhile, a couple have revealed how they cheated death after deciding to change their tickets at the last minute because a new car wasn’t ready.
Businessman Maxim Kolomeytsev, who turned 35 yesterday, and his girlfriend Nazezha, 25, had tickets for the doomed flight.
“I lost 10,000 roubles (£125) on making the change, but we’ve got our lives,” he said. “I wanted to celebrate my birthday with my relatives in Orsk,” he said. But he also intended to buy himself a car in his home city to mark his 35th birthday.
He said: “The car was delayed. The showroom said it wasn’t ready. We had bought the tickets for me and my girlfriend. But when I found out the car was not ready I delayed the trip by a week.”