At least 13 die in Moscow plane blaze disaster: Russian agencies

At least 13 die in Moscow plane blaze disaster: Russian agencies

MOSCOW: A passenger plane engulfed in a ball of flames on Sunday made an emergency landing at Moscow’s busiest airport, killing at least 13 people, Russian news agencies reported.
Dramatic footage shared on social media showed the Russian Aeroflot-owned aircraft, flames and black smoke pouring from its fuselage, land at Sheremetyevo international airport.
Passengers could be seen leaping onto an inflatable slide at the front and running from the blazing plane as huge black columns of smoke billowed into the sky.

“For the moment, we confirm the death of 13 people, two of them children,’ said a spokeswoman for the crash investigation team, Svetlana Petrenko, the agency reported.
Another 11 people were injured, said Dmitry Matveyev, the Moscow region’s health minister.
Three of them had been hospitalised but they were not in a serious condition, he added.

The Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet-100 carrying 73 passengers and five crew members had just left Sheremetyevo on a domestic route when the crew issued a distress signal, officials said.
“Flight Su-1492 took off on schedule at 6.02 pm (15H02 GMT),” said a statement from the airport.

“After the take-off, the crew reported an anomaly and decided to come back to the departure airport. At 6.30 pm, the aircraft made an emergency landing,” it added.
The tabloid newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda quoted one passenger, Petr Egorov, who said: “We had just taken off and the aircraft was hit by lightning…. The landing was rough, I almost passed out from fear.” “The plane sent out a distress signal after takeoff,” a source told Interfax news agency.

“It attempted an emergency landing but did not succeed the first time, and on the second time the landing gear hit (the ground), then the nose did, and it caught fire,” the source added.
Interfax, citing an anonymous source, said the plane had landed with its fuel tanks full because, having lost contact with air traffic controllers, it was too dangerous to dump its fuel tanks over Moscow.

According to the Ria Novosti news agency, the plane had been headed to the far northwest city of Murmansk in Russia.
It said initial findings suggested an electrical fault might have caused the blaze.
In a statement, Aeroflot said the motors were likely to have caught fire mid-air. Investigators have opened a criminal probe into a possible breach of security rules.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin had offered his condolences to the victims’ loved ones. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has also ordered a special committee to investigate the disaster, Ria Novosti agency reported.
Several flights have been diverted to other Moscow airports or Nizhny Novgorod, some 500 kilometres (310 miles) east of the Russian capital.

The Sukhoi Superjet-100 was the first civilian aircraft developed in Russia’s post-Soviet era and at the time of its launch, in 2011, was a source of national pride.
But it struggled to convince buyers from airlines outside Russia, and several foreign airlines that did buy it have since preferred to cut back its use or phase it out completely, citing its reliability.
The Russian government offered subsidies to encourage Russian airlines to buy the Superjet and Russian airline Aeroflot became its main operator. In September 2018, it announced a record order of 100 Superjet-100s. AFP

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