Putin Orders Investigation Into Deadly Aeroflot Plane Fire

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has offered condolences to families of victims of a fire in an Aeroflot passenger airplane and ordered an investigation into the deadly incident which killed 41 people, TASS news agency reports.

Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday that the President “extends his deep condolences to those who lost their near and dear in this incident,” adding that Putin ordered to conduct “the most thorough investigation to find out the causes of it.”

The aircraft, which was operating a flight to Murmansk, caught fire as it made an emergency landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, Russian investigators said.

Television footage showed the Sukhoi Superjet 100 crash bouncing along the tarmac at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport before the rear part of the plane suddenly burst into flames.

Many passengers on board SU 1492 then escaped via the plane’s emergency slides that inflated after the hard landing.

The plane, which had been flying from Moscow to the northern Russian city of Murmansk, had been carrying 73 passengers and five crew members, Russia’s aviation watchdog Rosaviatsiya said.

Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said in a statement that only 37 out of 78 people on board had survived, meaning 41 people had lost their lives. No official cause has been given for the disaster.

The Investigative Committee said it had opened an investigation and was looking into whether the pilots had breached air safety rules.

Some passengers blamed bad weather and said the plane was struck by lightning immediately after take-off.