A RUSSIAN plane exploded in a fireball as it made an emergency landing at Moscow’s main international airport.
Passengers were seen fleeing from the stricken Sukhoi Superjet at Sheremetyevo airport. The Aeroflot plane made an emergency landing after a fire on board soon after takeoff from Moscow to the Arctic city of Murmansk. Flames were seen flaring from the rear of the Russian-built aircraft with a reported 78 on board.
There was initial confusion over casualties with one report that 10 died including a female flight attendant, but this was not confirmed.
An early report said 36 had evacuated.
Later it was reported that all 78 had evacuated with six injured in hospital.
A female flight attendant had died while rescuing passengers, according to one account.
Passengers fleeing the plane believed there were fatalities, but the authorities initially denied this.
Another report said 26 were injured.
One witness said: “It is a miracle anyone has survived.”
The stricken plane was clearly visible from the main terminals at the airport in the north of Moscow.
The crash landing was on the aircraft’s second approach for an emergency landing.
A British Airways plane was on the tarmac.
The airport is closed for arrivals and departures.
A passenger called mikkentosh posted : “Guys I am all right, I am alive and in one piece.
“I managed to jump out.
“This was the 17.50 Moscow to Murmansk flight, see the rest in the news….
“Definitely not everyone managed to escape, huge condolences to families and friends.”
The plane is less than two years old.
Its first flight was reported to be in June 2017.
Criminal investigators are examining the cause of the crash.
There were reports that an electrical fault had caused the inferno after takeoff.
But other reports said the plane had suffered “communications problems” and the fire engulfed the Sukhoi as it returned to Moscow to land.