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Russian plane crash: 100s of rescuers continue recovery op overnight (DRONE VIDEO)

Russian plane crash: 100s of rescuers continue recovery op overnight (DRONE VIDEO)
The search and recovery operation at the site of the An-148 crash has continued overnight with hundreds of rescuers and emergency personnel sweeping the vast snowy area in the Moscow region.

READ MORE: 71 killed in Moscow region passenger plane crash: What we know so far

Aerial footage, released by Russia’s Emergencies Ministry (EMERCOM), shows rescuers working at the crash scene near the village of Argunovo, searching for evidence that can unriddle the cause of Sunday’s crash. Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov ordered drones to be used to search for bodies as debris is spread across a vast area between adjacent villages.

Overnight the emergency crews wrapped up their desperate search for possible survivors, as all 65 passengers and six crew of Saratov Airlines Flight 703 were pronounced dead on impact. Authorities already recovered one of the An-148’s flight recorders. The task is hampered by harsh snowy conditions, but Puchkov hopes his services can conclude their work within a week.

“Work is carried out to find fragments of bodies, to organize their identification, as well as to assist the Investigative Committee in carrying out all procedural actions in identifying the causes of the disaster,” the minister said while visiting the scene of the tragedy. 

Besides the massive presence of EMERCOM personnel, a hundred officers from the Investigative Committee are also working at the crash site. In total at least 600 people are working the site in three shifts. Investigators have already established the point of impact – a pit measuring seven meters in length, four meters in width and one and a half meters in depth.

Saratov Airlines’ Antonov An-148 passenger plane took off from Domodedovo Airport at 14:21 Moscow time with 71 people aboard. Radio contact with flight 730 to Orsk was lost when it vanished from radar several minutes later. The aircraft crashed some 80 kilometers (50 miles) south-east of the capital, in the Ramensky district.

The cause of the crash is currently under investigation with authorities considering technical malfunction, weather conditions and pilot error among the possibilities. Earlier, eyewitnesses noted seeing a flash in the sky, alleging that one of the engines could have malfunctioned and exploded.

On the day of the tragedy, the plane managed to make several flights, Saratov Airlines told TASS, without specifying the routes. Before each of those flights, the plane was checked. The last two technicians who serviced the plane were flying onboard the aircraft at the time of the crash. The final check before the fatal flight “did not reveal any deviations on the aircraft,” the press service added.

The airline noted that in January 2018, An-148 also passed its last ‘C-check’ inspection, during which the airframe, wing assemblies and engines in particular were carefully checked. The airline also said that captain Valery Gubanov was an experienced pilot who had accumulated 5,000 flight hours.

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