At least 41 people were killed after a Russian plane made an emergency landing and burst into flames at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow.
Videos on social media show passengers using emergency exit slides to escape the burning Aeroflot aircraft, the BBC reported on Sunday. Two children and a flight attendant were among the dead, Russian media reported. An investigation has been opened into the incident, reports say. Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly been briefed and expressed condolences to the families of victims. The region of Murmansk has announced a three-day mourning period.
One witness said that it was a “miracle” anyone escaped the jet, which was carrying 78 passengers and five crew. Veronika Skvortsova, head of Russia’s ministry of health, said in a statement that six patients are in hospital – three of whom are in a critical condition.
Aeroflot, Russia’s national carrier, said that the plane was forced to return to the airport “for technical reasons”, but did not elaborate. The aircraft, a Sukhoi Superjet-100, departed Sheremetyevo airport at 6.02 p.m. for the city of Murmansk.
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 firm said.
Of the 78 people on board the Superjet-100, only 37 have been accounted for, the Russian Investigative Committee said. Aeroflot published a list of survivors (in Russian) who have been identified so far, adding that it will continue to be updated as new information comes to light. Interfax quotes a source as saying the plane’s engines caught fire on the runway after a hard landing, not in mid-air as initially reported.