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At least 40 dead in Russian plane’s fiery emergency landing

Associated Press
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AP
In this image provided by Riccardo Dalla Francesca shows smoke rises from a fire on a plane at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday, May 5, 2019.
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Getty Images
This handout grab of a video obtained from the Instagram account of Gunkevitch on May 5, 2019, shows a fire of a Russian-made Superjet-100 at Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow. The Interfax agency reported that the plane, a Russian-made Superjet-100, had just taken off from Sheremetyevo airport on a domestic route when the crew issued a distress signal. 13 person died according to Russian agencies.
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Getty Images
People wait for a taxi at the terminal of the Sheremetyevo Airport outside Moscow after a Russian-made Superjet-100 on fire attempted an emergency landing on May 5, 2019. The Interfax agency reported that the plane, a Russian-made Superjet-100, had just taken off from Sheremetyevo airport on a domestic route when the crew issued a distress signal. 13 people died according to Russian agencies.

MOSCOW — At least 40 people died when an Aeroflot airliner burst into flames while making an emergency landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport Sunday evening, officials said.

The Sukhoi SSJ100 operated by national airline Aeroflot had 73 passengers and five crew members on board when it touched down and sped down a runway spewing huge flames and black smoke.

Elena Markovskaya, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said early Monday that 41 people were killed. But Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said later that 38 survived, implying the death toll was 40.

The victims included one member of the crew and at least two teenagers, according to the Investigative Committee.

Video showed desperate passengers leaping out of the plane onto inflatable evacuation slides and staggering across the airport’s tarmac and grass, some holding luggage.

The airport said in a statement that the plane, which had taken off from Sheremetyevo Airport for the northern city of Murmansk, turned back for unspecified technical reasons and made a hard landing that started the fire.

Video broadcast later on Russian television showed flames bursting from the jetliner’s underside as it lands and then bounces. The plane apparently did not have time to jettison fuel before the emergency landing, news reports said.

The SSJ100, also known as the Superjet, is a two-engine regional jet put into service in 2011 with considerable fanfare as a signal that Russia’s troubled aerospace industry was on the rise.

However, the plane’s reputation was troubled after defects were found in some horizontal stabilizers.

The plane’s manufacturer, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, said the plane in Sunday’s accident had received maintenance at the beginning of April. Aeroflot said the pilot had some 1,400 hours of experience flying the plane.

The plane is largely used in Russia as a replacement for outdated Soviet-era aircraft, but also has been used by airlines in other countries, including Armenia and Mexico.

This is the second fatal accident involving a SSJ100. In 2012, a demonstration flight in Indonesia struck a mountain, killing all 45 aboard.

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