65 passengers and six crew members were killed when a Russian airliner crashed after leaving Moscow’s Domodedovo airport.

Reports say the Saratov Airlines jet vanished minutes after take-off and crashed near the village of Argunovo, about 80km south-east of Moscow.

The cause of crash is unclear.

Investigators and emergency crews are working at the snow-covered site.

The Antonov An-148 was enroute to the city of Orsk in the Ural mountains.

Pieces of wreckage and bodies were found spread over a large area and officials said one of the flight recorders has been recovered.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences to the victims’ families and announced an inquiry into the cause of the crash.

This is the first commercial passenger jet crash for more than a year – 2017 was the safest year on record for air travel.

Eyewitnesses told Russian media that the jet was on fire as it went down.

A Russian official has denied reports that the pilot reported a malfunction.

In 2015, Saratov Airlines 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.

 

-BBC