Russian plane struck by lightning before fiery crash, passengers say
The Russian plane that burst into flames during a dramatic emergency landing in Moscow — killing 41 people — was struck by lightning moments before the crash, the pilot and surviving passengers said.
Fliers said that the lightning strike happened right at the start of the flight, the BBC reported.
One passenger, Petr Egorov, said that the Aeroflot jet “had just taken off and the aircraft was hit by lightning.”
“The landing was rough,” he added of the bumpy, then explosive descent into Sheremetyevo International Airport Sunday. “I almost passed out from fear.”
The plane’s pilot, Denis Yevdokimov, told Russian media that the aircraft lost communication and needed to switch to emergency control mode “because of lightning,” but stopped short of saying that the plane was struck directly.
“We managed to restore communication through the emergency frequency on our radio connection. But the link was only for a short time and kept cutting out,” Yevdokimov told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. “It was possible to say only a few words.”
At least two children were among the 41 dead and nine more people were hospitalized, three of them with serious injuries, authorities said.
Russia’s largest airline continued working Monday to determine the cause of the blaze — and has only said that the plane needed to return to the airport for “technical reasons,” the BBC reported.
Investigators have not commented on the claims that the plane was struck by lightning.
Seventy-three passengers and five crew members were aboard the flight, according to the report.
Witness Alyona Osokina told Russia’s TV Rain that she watched the aircraft moving along the runway as “the blaze was devouring the plane.”
“We were witnesses to this horror, right in front of our eyes, we saw an airplane on fire streaking down the runway,” she said.
With Post wires
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