Forty-one people were killed when a Russian passenger plane made an emergency crash-landing and caught fire Sunday at a Moscow airport, said Elena Markovskaya, a member of the country’s Investigative Committee.
Two children are among the dead, according to the committee. An American citizen was also killed in the crash, Russian news agency Interfax reported.
Initial reports said the Russian Superjet 100 was flying from Moscow to Murmansk when a fire broke out on board. Aeroflot Flight SU1492 returned to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, making a hard landing, Interfax reported. Interfax later said a “loss of communication” caused by a “lightning strike” forced the plane to return to Sheremetyevo Airport.
Video taken moments before the crash appears to show the plane bouncing on the runway before it made a hard landing and became engulfed in flames.
Thirty-seven people survived, Markovskaya told reporters at Sheremetyevo Airport. Five survivors are hospitalized, she said.
The plane had 73 passengers and five crew members on board. Russian state news agency TASS reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin orders ‘thorough investigation’
Videos on social media show the plane engulfed in flames on the tarmac and people evacuating through emergency slides.
A passenger in a plane waiting to depart Moscow posted this video on Instagram.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been informed of the fiery emergency landing of the Aeroflot jet in Moscow and has ordered a “thorough investigation,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told TASS.
“All instructions have been given to conduct the most thorough investigation, [to carry out] the necessary orders to find out the cause of this accident,” said Peskov, according to TASS.
Aeroflot, the unofficial national airline of Russia, confirmed that the fire occurred but hasn’t commented yet on casualties.
Russia’s Investigative Committee has launched a criminal probe into the incident, it said on its website. The committee routinely conducts investigations into major incidents with loss of life.