Forty-one people killed in Russian passenger plane fire

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Dozens of people, including at least two children, were killed when a Russian passenger jet crash-landed at a Moscow airport, bursting into flames on impact and bouncing down the runway.

Forty-one people died when Aeroflot plane made the emergency landing Sunday at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, said Elena Markovskaya, a member of the country’s Investigative Committee. An American citizen was also killed in the crash, Russian news agency Interfax reported.

Initial reports said the Aeroflot Superjet 100 was flying from Moscow to Murmansk, a Russian city in the Arctic circle, when an emergency on board forced it to turn back.

Video of the incident showed the plane skidding down the airport’s runway, its rear section ablaze and spilling thick, black smoke. Once the plane had come to a halt, passengers used the plane’s emergency slides from its two forward doors to exit the plane, before running away from the burning aircraft.

Of the 78 people aboard the plane, including five crew members, thirty-seven people survived, Markovskaya told reporters at Sheremetyevo Airport. Five survivors are hospitalized, she said.

Aeroflot Flight SU1492 returned to the capital’s international 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.

A passenger in a plane waiting to depart Moscow posted video on Instagram purportedly showing fire crews attending the scene as the aircraft sat in flames on the runway.

Aeroflot, Russia’s unofficial national carrier, published an “incomplete” list of 33 survivors, including the names of the five passengers hospitalized. In a series of short statements on its website, it said that the aircraft was evacuated in 55 seconds, compared to the “industry norm” of 90 seconds.

The flight crew “did everything in its power to save passenger lives and provide emergency assistance to those involved,” another short release said. “Tragically, they were unable to save all of those aboard.”

The captain was the last to leave the burning aircraft, the airline added, and offered its condolences to the passengers and their families. It announced that it would fly relatives those affected to Moscow without charge.

Russian-made jet

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.

The 100-seater aircraft is “a fusion of Russia’s famed aviation design and production skills with the latest systems from leading aerospace suppliers around the world,” the aircraft brochure says.

It achieved the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Type Certificate in 2012, and also holds safety certificates from a number of other aviation authorities.

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 spokesman 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.

He added that Putin “extends his deep condolences to those who lost their near and dear in this incident.”

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.

Aeroflot has also activated its rapid response center, headed by CEO Vitaly Saveliev, the airline announced.

By Theresa Waldrop, Darya Tarasova and Euan McKirdy, CNN

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