Moscow plane fire: What happened in the disaster where 41 people died

A passenger plane is seen on fire after an emergency landing at the Sheremetyevo Airport outside Moscow Russia

Russian investigators said today that 78 people were onboard the Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft when it caught fire during emergency landing at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday.

The official cause of the incident is now unknown, but early eyewitness and first-hand accounts mention a lightning strike.

There were 78 people on board the plan, according to the Investigative Committee.

Cabin crew on the jet that turned into a fireball at a Moscow airport are being hailed as heroes, with one reportedly dying in the flames as he fought to save passengers.

Maxim Moiseyev, 22, a flight attendant, was hailed for his heroism after dying as he tried to help passengers to leave the rear section of the burning plane.

A commission has been created to probe the cause and circumstances of the accident.

Video footage shows the aircraft skidding across the runway before bursting into flames.

The aircraft had been flying for about half an hour when an emergency forced a landing, though it's not clear what caused the incident.

The crew issued a distress signal when "malfunctions" occurred shortly after departure.

In 2012, a Superjet performing at an Indonesian air show slammed into a volcano, killing all 45 people on board.




According to Komsomolskaya Pravda daily newspaper, one survivor said: "The landing was rough - I nearly passed out from fear".

One passenger said the plane had been hit by lightning, a Russian news outlet reported. It also said the airline had claimed the plane had been evacuated in 55 seconds, versus the "industry norm" of 90 seconds.

A second video suggests that the plane may not have caught fire until the rough landing seemingly caused the main landing gear to collapse.

The Sukhoi Superjet 100 is a relatively new aircraft, having only entered service in mid-2011, and over 100 of the model are in operation around the world, according to the company.

Video showed passengers jumping from the wreckage to an inflatable slide with people clinging to their luggage as emergency vehicles raced toward the crash site. Aeroflot Flight SU1492 returned to Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, making a hard landing, Interfax reported. But the Emergencies Ministry said six people had been hospitalized.

Two children and a flight attendant were among the dead, Russian media reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was informed of the emergency and ordered a "thorough investigation", Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told TASS.

The authorities in Murmansk have declared three days of mourning over the loss of life.

The Sukhoi Superjet SSJ100 operated by national airline Aeroflot was carrying 73 passengers and five crew members when it touched down and sped along a runway on May 5, with huge flames and black smoke pouring from its fuselage.

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