Wreckage presumed to be from the Saratov airlinerImage copyright Reuters
Image caption Wreckage was found in a snowy field south-east of Moscow

A Russian passenger plane has crashed after leaving Moscow’s Domodedovo airport with 71 people on board.

The Saratov Airlines jet vanished minutes after take-off and crashed near the village of Argunovo, about 80km (50 miles) south-east of Moscow.

All those on board are thought to have died, officials told Russian media.

The Antonov An-148 was en route to the city of Orsk in the Urals, near the border with Kazakhstan. It crashed early in the afternoon local time.

Flight-tracking site Flightradar24 tweets that the aircraft was descending at 1,000m (3,300ft) per minute five minutes after taking off.

Pictures from the site show pieces of wreckage in a snow-covered field. Tass news agency quotes an official as saying bodies were found nearby.

Image copyright Flighradar24
Image caption The Flightradar24 website shows the flight path

Those on board included 65 passengers and six crew. President Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences to the victims’ families and announced an investigation into the cause of the crash.

Russia’s gazeta.ru website quotes unnamed investigators as saying the pilot had reported a malfunction and requested clearance for an emergency landing.

All 65 passengers were from Orenburg, the Russian region to which the plane was flying, a spokesman for the regional governor told Interfax news agency.

How good is Russia’s flight safety record?

Russian airlines have suffered two major plane crashes in recent years:

What do we know about Saratov Airlines?

Image copyright Air Team Images
Image caption The plane was less than eight years old

Saratov Airlines is based in Saratov, 840km south-east of Moscow.

In 2015 it was banned from operating international flights when surprise inspectors found someone other than the flight crew was in the cockpit.

The airline appealed against the ban and changed its policy before resuming international charter flights in 2016.

It flies mainly between Russian cities but also has destinations in Armenia and Georgia.

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Source: BBC