Footage shows Russian jet plummeting to the ground

Video has emerged showing the moment a plane - said to have mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin on board - was seen plummeting towards the ground.

In the footage the aircraft spirals vertically out of the sky towards the ground, followed by a trail of smoke.

The private jet, which initially is at high altitude, appears to be totally out of control and goes into a vertical dive just before it apparently smashes into a field.

A plume of thick black smoke rises from the crash scene seconds later.

The weather appears to be fine at the time, with just a few clouds in the sky.

Other video shows an aircraft fuselage on the ground in flames.

The head of the Wagner Group was listed as a passenger on the private jet, according to the Russian Aviation Agency.

Fate of Prigozhin unknown - follow live updates

It came down north of Moscow and was travelling from the capital to St Petersburg.

TASS news agency reported 10 people were on board, while Russian state news agency RIA later reported eight bodies had been discovered at the crash site, citing emergency services.

Read more: Profile of Yevgeny Prigozhin