A Russian Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet burst into flames after plane’s emergency landing on Sunday in Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow with 78 passengers. At least 41 people died and, five people are in hospital among 37 survived.
Videos on social media show passengers using emergency exit slides to escape the burning Aeroflot aircraft. Two children and a flight attendant were among the dead, Russian media reports.
“There were 78 people including crew aboard the airliner,” said a government spokeswoman. The latest tally showed that 37 had survived.
No official cause has been given for the disaster. The Investigative Committee said it had opened an inquiry and was looking into whether the pilots had breached air safety rules.
The crew issued a distress signal when “malfunctions” occurred shortly after departure. After making an emergency landing at the airport, the plane’s engines caught fire on the runway, Aeroflot said in a statement.
The crew “did everything to save the passengers,” who were evacuated in 55 seconds, the airline said.
Some passengers blamed bad weather and lightning. Reports also suggest it did not succeed in its first emergency landing attempt.
“We took off and then lightning struck the plane,” the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily cited one surviving passenger, Pyotr Egorov, as saying.
“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.”
A law enforcement source told the Interfax news agency that the plane gave a distress signal after departure, then tried to make an emergency landing. After a first attempt failed, the aircraft was able to make a landing on the second try.
Reports said, The incident caused at least 53 flights to be delayed and one canceled. Airport officials told the news agency that the airport was operating “in a limited mode with one runway.”