Forty-one Dead After Russian Plane Hit By Lightning

May 6, 2019

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A lightning strike is seen as a contributory factor in the crash of a Russian airliner as it attempted to land at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.

Forty-one people died as the Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 tried an emergency landing on Sunday after returning to the airport. Flight SU1492, carrying 73 passengers and five crew, was on a domestic flight to the northern city of Murmansk.

The aircraft made an initial heavy landing then bounced along the runway catching fire as it went. Passengers at the front of the aircraft were able to escape down emergency slides, but many in the back of the plane died as it was engulfed in flames from the aviation fuel that spilled from the ruptured fuel tanks.

Passengers on board said the plane was struck by lightning shortly after takeoff. It was reported that the plane then suffered electrical problems and was forced to turn back and make an emergency landing at Sheremetyevo.

Russian media reported that one of the reasons the evacuation took longer than expected was that some passengers attempted to retrieve their carry-on luggage before exiting the burning wreckage.

Russia's transport minister Yevgeny Ditrikh said he had no reason to ground the Superjet 100 fleet, but a regional carrier Yamal Airlines said it will cancel its order for 10 of the aircraft.

With well over 100 Superjets in service, the aircraft has had a patchy service history. A 2012 demonstration flight in Indonesia crashed into a mountain, killing all 45 on board in an accident blamed on human error.