Russian authorities have stated that the recovery operation of the Antonov An-148 aircraft that crashed shortly after takeoff from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport could take a week due to unfavorable weather.
Some 400 search-and-rescue workers were sent to the crash site but due to heavy snow on the site, recovery operation is set to be delayed. Only 2 bodies were recovered by late on February 11. Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov said that the rescue effort is over as all 71 people onboard are dead. He also expressed condolence to their families and friends.
Puchkov added that the debris and wreckage from crash was scattered in big snowy area with complicated terrain. Although one of the flight recorders was recovered, but it was not immediately clear if it was the data or voice recorder.
Saratov Airlines spokeswoman Yelena Voronova identified the pilot as 51-year-old Valery Gubanov and co-pilot as Sergei Gambaryan, and both of them being experienced pilot. On the list of passengers and crew published by Emergency Situations Ministry website, most of those on board were from the Orenburg region, where the plane was flying to along with 3 children and 2 foreign nationals from Switzerland and Azerbaijan.
The youngest victim of the crash was been named as five-year-old Nadezhda Krasova, who was killed alongside her mum Oksana Krasova, 32.
The Transport Ministry was considering weather conditions and human error as possible reasons for the crash, according to Interfax. Flightradar 24 tweeted that the plane was descending at 1,000 meters per minute five minutes after taking off. Russian officials denied reports that the pilot reported a malfunction.
President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences and put off a planned trip to the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on February 12 and remained in Moscow. The White House also expressed its condolences to families of the victims of the crash.
In the past, Domodedovo airport has been the focus of security concerns as suicide bombers destroyed two airliners that took off from the airport on the same evening, killing 90 people in 2004 and a suicide bombing in the arrivals area killed 37 people in January 2011.
It’s not the first tragic jet crash to hit Russia. In December, 2016 a Tu-154 military airliner crashed into the Black Sea with the loss of all 92 people aboard on 25 December 2016, with the disaster blamed on pilot error. And in October 2015 a Russian Airbus A321 carrying tourists crashed in Sinai, Egypt, with the loss of all 224 people aboard. ISIS said it had placed a bomb aboard.
The crash comes after a report by Aviation Safety Network in January that said 2017 was the safest year in commercial aviation in history worldwide.