MOSCOW (Reuters) - Forty-one people on board a Russian Aeroflot passenger plane were killed on Sunday, including two children, after the aircraft caught fire as it made a bumpy emergency landing at a Moscow airport, Russian investigators said.
Television footage showed the Sukhoi Superjet 100 crash bouncing along the tarmac at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport before the rear part of the plane suddenly burst into flames.
Many passengers on board SU 1492 then escaped via the plane’s emergency slides that inflated after the hard landing.
The plane, which had been flying from Moscow to the northern Russian city of Murmansk, had been carrying 73 passengers and five crew members, Russia’s aviation watchdog said.
Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said in a statement that only 37 out of 78 people on board had survived, meaning 41 people had lost their lives.
No official cause has been given for the disaster.
The Investigative Committee said it had opened an investigation and was looking into whether the pilots had breached air safety rules.
Some passengers blamed bad weather and lightning.
“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.”
State TV broadcast mobile phone footage shot by another passenger in which people could be heard screaming.
President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev expressed their condolences and ordered investigators to establish what had happened.