Moscow plane crash: what we know so far

Moscow plane crash: what we know so far

Aeroflot’s Sukhoi Superjet 100 passenger plane with 73 passengers and five crewmembers onboard that was bound for Murmansk caught fire after emergency landing at Sheremetyevo shortly after the takeoff on Sunday.

According to the Russian Investigative Committee, 41 of 78 people on board, including two children, died in a fire.

Both flight data recorders from the plane that burst into flames after emergency landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport yesterday have been found, an emergency service source said.

"Both recorders have been recovered. Their condition is yet to be determined. Whether we can decode the data will be clear after we open them," TASS cited him as saying.

An Aeroflot captain who piloted the Superjet 100 in Moscow, Denis Evdokimov, said he had to crash-land with full tanks, which possibly led to the jet catching fire right after its bumpy touchdown.

There was “a bright flash and a bang” moments before the pilots began an immediate descent into Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, Evdokimov said, adding that communication with the ground failed “because of a lightning strike.”

The failure left the crew with no option but to perform a manual landing. They finally managed to establish radio contact and “could only say a couple of words” to the air traffic control, who guided them back to the runway, Edvokimov recalled.

While attempting to land, the jet struck the runway several times, probably damaging the fuel tanks and causing a fire to ignite in the rear of the fuselage. But the captain failed to explain why the touchdown was so hard, only saying that “we had caught fire upon landing,” RT reported.

The crew didn’t seem to have any trouble during descent, he said. “The speed wasn’t high, it was normal. [We acted] according to the flight manual.” However, the jet’s weight was much greater than required because of its full tanks, making it extremely challenging to safely land a 45-ton airliner on a runway, the pilot said.

He and his first officer followed a protocol on landing an overweight plane, but it could be the bumpy touchdown that ignited fire on board, Evdokimov suggested.

The Turkish foreign ministry offered condolences to Russia over the incident. “We received the news of loss of lives caused by the aircraft accident,” that happened at the Sheremetyevo Airport “yesterday evening with great sorrow,” the ministry said in a statement. 

“We share the sorrow of the people and Government of Russia, convey our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives, wish speedy recovery to the injured,” Anadolu Agency cited the statement as saying.

A criminal case has been initiated on the fact of the emergency landing and the fire under part 2 of Article 263 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Violation of the Rules for Traffic Safety and Operation of the Railway, Air, or Water Transportation Systems that caused death of two or more persons).

The authorities of Russia’s Murmansk region have declared three days of mourning after a plane crash at Sheremetyevo airport, in which 41 people died. Andrei Chibis, the region’s acting governor wrote it on Facebook.

"A three-day mourning has been declared in the Murmansk region," he wrote.

As reported on the website of the regional government, "by decision of the acting governor of the Murmansk region, Andrei Chibis, May 6, 7 and 8 were declared days of mourning following the tragedy at Sheremetyevo airport."

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