Fifty Dead in Russia Plane Crash Near Moscow

The deadliest accident of its kind to occur in Russia since 2011, a Russian Boeing 737 plane crashed Sunday in the city of Kazan, killing all 50 people — passengers and crew — on board. The plane took off from Moscow and reportedly lost altitude as it tried to land for a second time, after which its nose plummeted into the ground, setting the entire aircraft on fire at 7:20 PM.

Among those killed were Irek Minnikhanov, the son of the president of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan and Alexander Antonov, the head of the Tatarstan branch of the Federal Security Service (an agency similar to the KGB). A 53-year-old British citizen was also one of the victims — no American casualties have been reported, however. The rest of the 44 passengers and six crew members were Russian.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has "expressed his condolences to the relatives of the victims in this horrible disaster," and set up a government commission to investigate the cause, which remains unknown. Although both a voice-recording device and a parametric device were found on board, they will take time to be deciphered, and experts have warned that the damage was significant.

“The casing of the recovered onboard recorders has been badly damaged... but the black boxes have been passed on for decoding. Regardless of the great damage, I think we'll be able to extract some information out of them," an official said.

What has been established is that the 47-year-old pilot had already tried to land the Boeing 737-500 more than once before crashing, and, according to Russian state news, although the pilot had told the control tower he'd take another turn around the airport, he didn't follow the guidelines dictated to him.

"[The pilot] told me he would attempt to perform another circle and I dictated the numbers to him - all according to procedure — and that was that. He confirmed the instructions, but didn't deviate from his path. [The crash] happened mere seconds later," Kornishin told Russia 24 TV.

“The main version being considered is crew error. The so-called human factor,” an investigator confirmed.

The last crash to have killed such a large number of people was in September 2011, when a a Yak-42 plane crashed near the town of Yaroslavl, killing 44 passengers (almost the entirety of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv ice-hockey team.)

The airport, which is located in Kazan ( a city roughly 450 miles east of Moscow) has been closed since the accident, but is expected to be up and running by Monday afternoon.