The evacuation of a burning plane was delayed by passengers getting their hand luggage from overhead lockers, it has been reported.
Thirteen people – including two children – were killed when Flight SU1492 burst into flames in mid-air before landing at Moscow’s main international airport.
The Aeroflot Superjet is reported to have suffered an engine fire before making an emergency landing at Sheremetyevo Airport.
Footage shared online shows the plane ablaze as it lands.
After the plane skidded to a stop, passengers sprinted from the wreckage with their children in their arms, screaming.
Many passengers then escaped via the plane’s emergency slides that inflated after the hard landing.
An airport official said that “many passengers delayed emergency evacuation – because against all instructions – they were picking up hand luggage from overhead compartments.”
There are unconfirmed reports the plane may have been struck by lightning with the weather around Moscow stormy today.
Medical workers told the TASS news agency at least 13 people had been killed and that others remained unaccounted for.
Russian news agencies said the plane, which had been flying from Moscow to the northern Russian city of Murmansk before turning back, had been carrying 78 passengers.
It is unclear at this stage how many crew had been on board.
Russian investigators have opened an investigation and are looking into whether the pilots had breached air safety rules.
The Interfax news agency reported that a rescue team was combing through the charred wreckage of the rear of the plane looking for survivors.
The crashed 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 ir traffic control lost communication with it,” said a source.
It was impossible to contact it. It was landing in complete silence.”
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.
The Flightradar24 tracking service showed that the plane had circled twice over Moscow before making an emergency landing after about 45 minutes.
The Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered Transport Minister Evgeny Dietrich to create a special commission to look into the crash.