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Russian plane crash kills all 71 people on board, state media say

(CNN) — The crew of the Saratov Airlines flight that crashed near Moscow on Sunday didn’t report any problems before the plane crashed into snowy terrain, killing all 71 people on board, state-run media said.

The Antonov An-148 aircraft was carrying 65 passengers and six crew members, the Russian news agency Interfax said. Three children — ages 5, 13 and 17 — were among the passengers, state news agency RIA reported.

Debris was found about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Moscow's Domodedovo Airport on Sunday.

The plane was headed to the Russian city of Orsk, near the border with Kazakhstan. But it disappeared from radar shortly after takeoff from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, Russian state news agency Tass reported.

The plane went down in Ramenskoye District, in the Moscow region, the Russian emergency ministry told CNN.

“The snow is very dense … the Moscow region has had some of its heaviest snowfall in decades,” CNN’s Matthew Chance reported from Moscow. “It’s not clear at this stage whether weather was factor in this crash.”

While the cause of the crash remains uncertain, the Investigative Committee of Russia said officials have launched a criminal investigation.

Questions abound

Some clues may emerge from a flight data recorder, which was found at the site of the crash, the state-run Sputnik news agency reported.

But the debris is widespread.

More wreckage was found scattered across the snowy terrain.

“The scatter of fragments of the aircraft and bodies of dead passengers occupies a large territory; the radius is not less than 1 kilometer (0.6 miles),” said Svetlana Petrenko, spokeswoman the Investigative Committee of Russia.

Saratov Airlines employees and the Domodedovo Airport workers who prepared the plane for flight have been questioned, Petrenko said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “expresses deep condolences to all those who lost relatives and friends in this disaster,” his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Tass.

Sunday’s crash ends a 440-day streak without a passenger jet airliner fatality — the longest stretch in modern aviation history.