Forty-one passengers, including two children and one flight attendant, have tragically lost their lives on board a Russian Aeroflot plane.
After being forced to make an emergency landing in Moscow, Aeroflot flight SU1492 was brought down in flames on the tarmac at Sheremetyevo International Airport, the airline said in a statement.
Aircraft crew on board the flight, which departed Moscow for the northern Russian city of Murmansk, were forced to request an emergency landing in Moscow, after malfunctions on board the aircraft were detected shortly after takeoff.
Footage of the crash showed the plane, after making a hard landing, sliding along the tarmac at Sheremetyevo Airport; its tail, wings and engines engulfed in flames, with plumes of black smoke the length of the entire runway behind it.
Посадка пылающего Sukhoi Superjet 100 в Шереметьево. Пилоты – стальные люди pic.twitter.com/ETlzOHbUKw
— Дмитрий Смирнов (@dimsmirnov175) May 5, 2019
Russian media reports said that passengers on board SU1492 then escaped via the plane’s emergency slides that inflated after the hard landing.
Svetlana Petrenko, a spokesperson for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said that only 37 out of 78 people on board had survived; 41 people had lost their lives, including two children.
The Superjet 100 aircraft was carrying 73 passengers and five crew members, Russia’s aviation watchdog said. One witness said it was a “miracle” anyone escaped the jet.
Aeroflot mourned the loss of life on flight SU1492, and said its crew did “everything in its power to save passenger lives and provide emergency assistance to those involved”.
“Our thoughts and hearts are with those who have suffered an unspeakable loss. We mourn with you.”
The airline said it will fly relatives of passengers affected on flight SU1492 to Moscow without charge, and that most of its flights for 5 May and 6 May had been either delayed or cancelled.
The airline has published a list of the survivors. Several of them have been hospitalised.
Aeroflot said flight SU1492 was forced to return to the airport “due to technical reasons”, while no official cause has been given for the disaster.
Update: According to investigators, more than 40 people have died after a Russian passenger plane caught fire and made an emergency landing in Moscow. https://t.co/NvWZ0KMynu
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) May 5, 2019
Some passengers on board blamed bad weather and lightning.
“We took off and then lightning struck the plane,” passenger Pyotr Egorov told Komsomolskaya Pravda.
“The plane turned back and there was a hard landing. We were so scared, we almost lost consciousness. The plane jumped down the landing strip like a grasshopper and then caught fire on the ground.”
Russian state TV broadcast mobile phone footage from another passenger in which people could be heard screaming.
The Interfax news agency cited an unnamed “informed source” as saying the evacuation of the plane had been delayed by some passengers insisting on collecting their hand luggage first.
President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev expressed their condolences and ordered investigators to establish what had happened, with a commission chaired by Transport Minister Evgeny Ditrich established to investigate the incident.