41 dead as Russian plane makes fiery crash landing

Russian officials said 41 bodies have been recovered from the fiery wreckage after emergency landing at Moscow airport.

Harrowing video has emerged after an Aeroflot plane landed in flames at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday.

Large flames engulfed the tail section of the Sukhoi Superjet plane as it made an emergency landing at the airport about 30 minutes after takeoff after at least one aborted attempt.

Russian media reported Sunday evening that 41 of the 78 people onboard perished, including two children and one of the five crew members. Officials said that six survivors of the crash were also hospitalized Sunday night.


The aircraft was scheduled to depart at 5:50 p.m. local time (14:50 GMT) for the city of Murmansk, near the Barents Sea. The Interfax news agency reports crew issued a distress call shortly after departure and requested to return to Sheremetyevo.

Aeroflot released a brief statement indicating that the plane was forced to return to the airport for "technical reasons", and confirmed a fire in the engines of the aircraft.

There are conflicting reports as to whether the fire broke out while the plane was airborne or while it was landing, but Russian media sources indicated the incident began after the plane was struck by lightning. Thunderstorms were reported at Moscow area airports about 20 minutes before the incident. Pilot Denis Evdokimov was quoted by Zvezda TV and the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper by saying that "because of lightning, we had a loss of radio communication." A flight attendant also reported strong hail and "some kind of flash, like electricity."

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According to Russia's Investigative Committee, inexperienced pilots, equipment failure and bad weather are all being invesigated as possible causes for the disaster.

Sources: TASS | BBC | CBC