The plane caught fire after a hard landing | 41 out of 78 on board lost their lives | Investigations underway.
An Aeroflot airplane with 78 on board caught fire after an emergency landing in Moscow within 30 minutes of taking off from the same airport.
“There are 37 survivors – 33 passengers and four members of the crew,” said Yelena Markovskaya, an official involved in the investigation of the crash.
- Forty-one lives were lost when a Russian plane made a hard emergency landing which made it burst into flames at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
- While initial reports opined the plane had caught fire before landing, sources quoted by Interfax have said the fire was caused due to bumpy landing with full fuel.
- Russia’s state-owned carrier Aeroflot said that the plane returned to the airport for technical reasons, but survivors have suggested a lightning strike.
- Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered a special committee to investigate the disaster.
The plane returned to the airport within 30 minutes of departure and landed in a fireball. The aircraft, a Sukhoi Superjet-100, belonging to national carrier Aeroflot had left the airport outbound for Murmansk.
The crew had sent a distress signal reporting ‘malfunctions’ in bad weather shortly after take-off and returned to the Moscow Airport shortly.
The tragedy hit a couple of days after a Boeing 737 plane managed to escape without any casualties after skidding off the runway in Florida, USA. The crash is the second fatal crash of 2019 after the Ethiopian Air disaster in March.
What caused the fire?
After making an emergency landing at the airport, the plane’s engines caught fire on the runway, Aeroflot said, adding that the crew “did everything to save the passengers”.
The crew reportedly decided against dumping fuel over the city of Moscow, having lost contact with the ATC. The full fuel tanks caused the fire to grow rapidly engulfing and completely charring the rear of the Aeroflot plane.
Passengers reported being on the plane when it exploded into a fireball on the ground. Many managed to save themselves by jumping out. The surviving passengers praised the flight attendants for their efforts.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences to victim families.
Did a Lightning strike factor in?
Lightning hits on airplanes mid-air is a common phenomenon. Modern planes are fitted with steel meshes, and other lightning current diffusing devices.
But often lightning strikes can result in technical malfunctions, forcing planes to divert or make emergency landings. However, crashes induced by lightning strikes are a rare occurrence.
A lightning strike mid-air is noticed by passengers through loud bangs or bright flashes lighting up the cabin. Some of the survivors have opined that the plane was hit by lightening which caused the technical reasons for its return to Moscow.