Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences to the families of 71 people who died yesterday when a passenger plane crashed near Moscow.

The plane disappeared from radar screens shortly after taking off from the city’s Domodedovo Airport.

News reports said 65 passengers and six crew were on board the An-148 regional jet, heading for the city of Orsk in the Ural mountains, about 1000 miles south-east of Moscow.

Russia’s transport minister Maxim Sololov said that “judging by everything, no-one has survived this crash”.

The plane crashed near the village of Argunovo, about 50 miles south-east of Moscow.

It had taken off off at 2.27pm – 11.27am GMT – but contact was lost four minutes later.

Flight-tracking site Flightradar24 said it then descended at the rate of 3,300ft per minute.

Witnesses told Russian media the jet was on fire as it plummeted.

A child and two teenagers were reportedly among the passengers, all but three of whom were from the Orenburg region, where Orsk is located, city mayor Andrei Odintsov told Tass news agency.

Two passengers were from Moscow and a third from St Petersburg, he added.

It was unclear if there were any casualties among people on the ground at the crash site.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said all possible crash causes were being looked into. Investigators and emergency crews were working at the snow-covered site.

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

Investigators said the causes they were considering included weather conditions, human error and technical failure, but they did not mention the possibility of terrorism.

President Putin postponed a planned trip to Sochi so he could closely monitor the investigation.

He was due to meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas today in the Black Sea resort, where the president has an official residence. Instead, Mr Abbas will meet Mr Putin in Moscow in the latter part of today, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Russian media said the jet belonged to Saratov Airlines.

Tass said the plane had first flown in 2010, with a two-year break because of a shortage of parts. It was ordered by Rossiya Airlines, a subsidiary of Aeroflot, but was put into storage from 2015 to 2017.

Tass reported it re-entered service for Saratov Airlines in February last year.

The jet was developed by Ukraine’s Antonov company in the early 2000s and was manufactured in both Ukraine and Russia.

It has been reported that, in 2015, Saratov Airlines was banned from operating international flights when 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.

Yesterday’s incident was the first commercial passenger jet crash for more than 12 months, with 2017 hailed as the safest year on record for air travel.

However, Russia has suffered two major plane crashes since 2015.

A Tu-154 military airliner crashed into the Black Sea with the loss of all 92 people on board on Christmas Day in 2016, with the disaster later blamed on pilot error.

And on October 31, 2015, a Russian Airbus A321 carrying tourists crashed in Sinai, Egypt, with the loss of all 224 people on board.

The Islamic State group later said it had placed a bomb on the plane.