Tuesday 21 May 2019

Russian plane ‘struck by lightning’ before fatal blaze

A total of 41 people died when the aircraft caught fire while making an emergency landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

The wreckage of Aeroflot’s Sukhoi SSJ100 plane which caught fire on landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, killing at least 40 people (Russian Investigative Committee/AP)
The wreckage of Aeroflot’s Sukhoi SSJ100 plane which caught fire on landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, killing at least 40 people (Russian Investigative Committee/AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

Russian media have quoted the pilot of the airliner that burst into flames during an emergency landing in Moscow as saying the plane was without radio communications because of a lightning strike.

Sunday’s fire killed 41 of the 78 people aboard the Aeroflot plane.

The plane had taken off for Murmansk in stormy weather, but quickly turned back for an emergency landing. It made a hard landing and flames erupted.

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A woman places flowers at the sign of the last flight of the Sukhoi SSJ100 aircraft of Aeroflot Airlines (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Pilot Denis Evdokimov was quoted by Zvezda TV and the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper that “because of lightning, we had a loss of radio communication.”

State TV quoted flight attendant Tatiana Kasatnika as saying “We took off, got into a cloud, there was strong hail, and at that moment there was a pop and some kind of flash, like electricity”.

Both flight recorders have been recovered from the plane

Russian Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko was quoted by Russian news agencies on Monday as saying investigators are looking into three main possibilities behind the cause of the disaster – insufficient pilot qualifications, equipment failure, and weather.

Video on Russian TV showed the Aeroflot plane’s underside bursting into flames and spewing black smoke after making a hard landing at Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday night.

Those who escaped leapt out of the Sukhoi SSJ100 airliner down inflatable emergency slides and ran across the tarmac.

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Employees of the Russian Investigative Committee working at the scene at Sheremetyevo Airport (Russian Investigative Committee/AP)

Storms were passing through the Moscow area when the jet caught fire during the emergency landing, after it turned back during an internal flight to Murmansk.

Russian transport minister Yevgeny Dietrich said 41 bodies have been recovered from the burned wreckage.

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The Aeroflot Sukhoi SSJ100 aircraft after the emergency landing in Moscow (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

He also told reporters in a briefing on Monday that six people who survived the disaster on Sunday night are being treated in hospital.

Press Association

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