A Russian passenger plane burst into flames on Sunday as it attempted an emergency landing at a Moscow airport, leaving 41 passengers dead and more wounded.
The video of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport shows that the plane bounces along the runway before bursting into flames. The tail section of the Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 was engulfed in a fire, discharging thick black smoke as crew members evacuated passengers using emergency slides. The fire engines accelerated into the fire while some passengers were seen fleeing across the runway in tears. Some carried luggage.
The death toll, originally reported as 19, increased considerably as Russian emergency workers meticulously recovered the bodies of the dead from the burning debris.
Early reports indicate that most of the dead were trapped in the tail section of the plane. The Research Committee of Russia said that two of the victims were children.
“There were 78 people, including the crew aboard the plane,” said a government spokeswoman. The last count showed that 37 had survived.
No official cause for the disaster has been given. The Investigation Committee said it had opened an investigation and was investigating whether the pilots had violated the aviation safety rules.
Some passengers blamed bad weather and lightning.
“We took off and then lightning hit the plane,” the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper quoted a surviving passenger, Pyotr Egorov, as saying.
“The plane turned around and there was a hard landing. We were so scared that we almost lost consciousness. The plane jumped down the runway like a grasshopper and then caught fire on the ground. “
The plane was flying towards Murmansk, a Russian city in the arctic circle, when the pilots reported an emergency on board and turned around. Aeroflot, the airline that manages the flight, said the reason may have been an engine fire.
While trying to land, the plane hit the runway several times, damaging the fuel tanks and causing a fire in the rear section of the fuselage.
It took the firefighters to fight the fire for more than an hour to reach the passengers in the queue section.
The Flightradar24 tracking service showed that the plane had circled twice over Moscow before making an emergency landing after nearly 30 minutes in the air.
Interfax quoted a source as saying that the plane had only managed to make an emergency landing on the second attempt and that some of the aircraft’s systems had failed.
Aeroflot currently operates 50 Sukhoi Superjets of Russian manufacture in its fleet of 255 passenger aircraft. The carrier has ordered another 100 Superjets from Sukhoi, which is scheduled to deliver the plane between 2019 and 2026.
There have been concerns with the reliability of the aircraft before the incident. In 2012, a Sukhoi Superjet crashed into a mountain in Indonesia during a sales demonstration flight, killing 37 people. In 2016, it was reported that 11 Sukhoi aircraft had been grounded due to problems with the plane’s tail stabilizer.
The Superjet entered service in 2011 and was the first new passenger aircraft developed in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.
However, it has been affected by sporadic concerns about safety and reliability, including a ground connection in December 2016 after a defect in the tail section of an airplane was discovered.
The Russian Investigation Committee opened a criminal investigation into security breaches that led to the deaths of two or more people, a common step after the mass casualties in Russia.
Officials have also confirmed that at least 11 people were injured, and some were hospitalized with burns.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and President Vladimir Putin expressed their condolences to the families of the victims.