THERE were no survivors from a passenger plane that crashed near Moscow, according to Russia’s transport minister.

The AN-148 regional jet disappeared from radar screens shortly after taking off from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport yesterday afternoon.

Maxim Sololov said that “judging by everything, no-one has survived this crash”.

News reports said a total of 71 people – 65 passengers and six crew – were on board Flight 703, which was heading for the city of Orsk, near the southern tip of the Ural Mountains, around 1000 miles south-east of Moscow.

Wreckage was found in the Ramenskoye area about 25 miles from the airport, but it was unclear if there were any casualties among people on the ground at the crash site.

Russia’s emergency situations ministry said: “Several minutes after take-off, radio connection with the crew disappeared, the plane’s mark disappeared from radars.”

The ministry posted the names of passengers and crew members online yesterday – a list revealing that at least three children were on board the plane.

A spokeswoman for the Orsk city administration, Yelena Abramova, told the Interfax news agency that one of the passengers was a Swiss citizen.

Fragments of the plane and many bodies were found near the village of Stepanovskoe, said the official news agency Tass, quoting a spokesman for the emergency services, who said “rescue workers, ambulances and firefighters” were headed to the site of the crash, an open field.

Andrei Kulakov, who heads the administration in the Ramenskoe district, told state news channel Rossiya 24: “The snow is deep, we need heavy-duty equipment.”

Video broadcast from the scene showed rescuers slogging through snowy fields to try to reach the crash site and a piece of the plane protruding from the snow.

Investigators and emergency crews could be seen working at the snow-covered scene,

Tass quoted one source as saying: “Debris has been found, there are no survivors.”

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash and the Russian transport ministry was considering a number of possibilities, including weather conditions and pilot error, according to Interfax.

Russian news website quoted unnamed investigators as saying the pilot had reported a malfunction and requested clearance for an emergency landing.

The Interfax news agency said witnesses reported that they saw a burning plane fall to the ground.

It quoted Sergei Sheremetsinsky, a spokesman for the regional governor, as saying that all passengers were residents of the Orenburg region, which sits on the boundary between Europe and Asia.

President Vladimir Putin postponed a planned trip to Sochi to closely monitor the investigation.

He was due to meet Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, in the Black Sea resort where the president has an official residence.

Instead, Abbas is expected to meet Putin in Moscow later this afternoon, said his Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Russian media said the crashed short-haul jet belonged to Saratov Airlines. Tass said it had first flown in 2010, with a two-year break because of a shortage of parts.

A subsidiary of Aeroflot - Rossiya Airlines – ordered the aircraft, but it was put into storage between 2015-17 because of a lack of parts.

Tass said it re-entered service for Saratov in February 2017.

Flightradar 24, the flight-tracking website, said on social media that the jet was descending at the rate of 1000m (3300ft) per minute shortly after take-off.