Dramatic video released on Wednesday has shown a Russian airliner coming to rest on a taxiway after it was struck by lightning and burst into flames during landing.
A total of 41 people were killed on May 5, 2019, when Aeroflot Flight 1492, bound for Murmansk, was forced to return to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport after the reported lightning strike.
As the aircraft made a rough landing, flames engulfed the jet’s rear section and the aircraft skidded down a runway.
Video released on Wednesday by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation showed the aircraft coming to a halt on a taxiway before passengers try to escape.
Several passengers could be seen using emergency exit slides and trying to get away from the plane.
Emergency responders could then be seen arriving and trying to make their way into the stricken aircraft. A total of 40 passengers and one crew member were killed. Thirty-seven people survived.
The plane did not dump any fuel, which is common for flights that have to land soon after takeoff to prevent being overly heavy.
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The pilot of the aircraft, Denis Evdokimov, said the plane lost radio communications because of a lightning strike, but it was not clear if that precipitated the emergency landing.
Investigators said Captain Evdokimov was found guilty of causing death by negligence for flying “in violation of the established rules” after making the “rough landing” resulting in the fire.
According to reports, an airport official said, “Many passengers delayed emergency evacuation – because against all instructions – they were picking up hand luggage from overhead compartments.”
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Safety announcements in planes regularly tell passengers not to take their baggage when evacuating aircraft.
Geoffrey Thomas, an aviation writer and author of Airline Ratings, said it is “extremely likely” the death toll would have been lower had the plane been evacuated quicker.
“What is really concerning here is if you look at the vision you can see them carrying their bags … and there’s passengers inside taking videos,” Mr Thomas told 7News.
“Clearly this is another situation where passengers getting their bags off, instead of just getting off the aeroplane, has tragically caused … people to lose their lives.
“It’s just a real tragedy that this has happened, and it’s been a problem industry has been looking at for some time, with passengers not obeying crew instructions to get off the aeroplane as quickly as possible.”
– with AP