Investigators fear 41 people are dead after a passenger jet landed in flames at one of Russia’s major airports.
The death toll is believed to include at least two children after a passenger plane made a fiery landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.
Panicked passengers rushed to evacuate the aircraft at Moscow’s main international airport as the flames took hold.
A flight attendant died while rescuing passengers from the stricken Sukhoi Superjet, according to local media reports.
The plane took two attempts to ‘crash land’, according to RT.com.
The Interfax news agency says a US citizen was among the victims.
One witness said: “It is a miracle anyone has survived.” There have been conflicting reports on the precise number of casualties.
The SU1492 flight from Moscow to Murmansk declared an emergency shortly after take-off and returned to the Russian capital.
Shocking footage from on board the Russian-built plane as it landed captured horrific flames engulfing the windows and the screams of passengers as they were gripped by panic.
The Aeroflot Superjet was on fire when it landed.
The cause of the fire is not known with unconfirmed reports of a lightning strike. There have been storms in the Moscow area today.
Passengers could be seen evacuating the plane down the emergency slide while the rear of the aircraft is engulfed in flames and black smoke.
An airport official said that “many passengers delayed emergency evacuation – because against all instructions – they were picking up hand luggage from overhead compartments.”
It is reported there were 78 people on board the flight.
Fire crews on the tarmac tackled the fire which sent plumes of black smoke into the evening sky.
A passenger referred to in Russian media as ‘mikkentosh’ posted: “Guys I am all right, I am alive and in one piece. I managed to jump out.”
The plane gave a distress signal before landing at Sheremetyevo, and the connection with it disappeared, a source in the airport services told Interfax.
“The plane gave a distress signal, then the traffic control lost communication with it,” said a source.
“It was impossible to contact it.
“It was landing in complete silence.”
The stricken plane was clearly visible from the main terminals at the airport in the north of Moscow.
Only one runway of the two airport runways is in use. Some inbound flights are diverting to other airports and departing flights are delayed.
After the fire was extinguished, the extent of the damage was revealed.
The tail had been completely consumed by the blaze, and much of the rear fuselage had been burned down to its metal skeleton.