Plane incident claims 40

MOSCOW (AP) — At least 40 people died when an Aeroflot airliner burst into flames while making an emergency landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport Sunday evening, officials said.

The Sukhoi SSJ100 operated by national airline Aeroflot had 73 passengers and five crew members on board when it touched down and sped down a runway spewing huge flames and black smoke.

Elena Markovskaya, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said early today that 41 people were killed. But Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said later that 38 survived, implying the death toll was 40.

The victims included one member of the crew and at least two teenagers, according to the Investigative Committee.

Video showed desperate passengers leaping out of the plane onto inflatable evacuation slides and staggering across the airport’s tarmac and grass, some holding luggage.

The airport said in a statement that the plane, which had taken off from Sheremetyevo Airport for the northern city of Murmansk, turned back for unspecified technical reasons and made a hard landing that started the fire.

Video broadcast later on Russian television showed flames bursting from the jetliner’s underside as it lands and then bounces. The plane apparently did not have time to jettison fuel before the emergency landing, news reports said.

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