Russian plane engulfed in fireball

A Russian passenger plane has exploded in a fireball during an emergency landing, killing at least 13 people.

The Russian Aeroflot plane caught fire mid-air and made an emergency landing at a Moscow airport, Russian news agencies report.

Television footage showed the Sukhoi Superjet-100 making an emergency landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday (local time) with much of the rear part of the plane engulfed in flames.

The Aeroflot plane hurls down the runway. Picture: APSource:AP

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

Medical workers told the TASS news agency at least 13 people had been killed and that others remained unaccounted for.

Among the dead were two children, The Associated Press reported, citing investigators.

At least six people were reported injured.

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.

Some news reports cited sources as saying the plane bounced several times during the landing “Investigators soon will begin interviewing victims, eyewitnesses, airport staff and the airline carrier, as well as other persons responsible for the operation of the aircraft,” Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said.

There were fears of more casualties on flight SU-1492 with footage showing it was engulfed in flames when it touched down in Moscow.

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The Sukhoi-Superjet 100 had left Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport at 5.50pm (10.50pm AEST) local time on Sunday, Russian news agencies said.

The one-year-old plane had been bound for the northern Russian city of Murmansk, but crashed 27 minutes after takeoff.

The Russian jet was forced to turn around when an electrical reportedly sparked a fire onboard.

Flames engulf the Aeroflot flight. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Flightradar24, which tracks aircraft, reported that the jet circled Moscow twice before attempting to land.

TASS, a state run Russian news outlet, said that 13 people were killed, amid conflicting reports of the death toll.

There were said to be 73 passengers and five crew members on board.

Dramatic footage shows the aircraft attempting to land then bursting into flames.

The aircraft, which had a registration RA-89098, was severely damaged, with its tail almost destroyed.

Interfax news agency reported the tail was completely burned and said a rescue team was trying to find survivors in that part of the plane. The plane, a year-old Sukhoi Superjet, departed from Sheremetyevo for Murmansk but shortly after taking off requested an emergency landing because of fire, according to Russian state media.

The Flightradar24 tracking service showed the plane made two circles around Moscow and landed after about 45 minutes.

Russian television showed huge black columns of smoke towering over the plane. Other videos shared on social media showed the aircraft ablaze as it attempted to land, then passengers leaving by a forward door.

Fire rages at Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

The Interfax agency reported that the plane, a Russian-made Superjet-100, had just taken off from Sheremetyevo on a domestic route when the crew issued a distress signal.

“It attempted an emergency landing but did not succeed the first time, and on the second time the landing gear hit (the ground), then the nose did, and it caught fire,” a source told Interfax.

Smoke can be seen coming from the distressed plane. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

It said initial indications suggested an electrical fault might have caused the fire while the plane was in the air.

Russian investigators said they had opened a criminal probe into a possible breach of security rules.

The remains of a Russian-made Superjet-100 at the landing strip of Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

The SSJ100, also known as the Superjet, is a two-engine regional jet put into service in 2011 with considerable fanfare as a signal that Russia’s troubled aerospace industry was on the rise.

The plane is largely used in Russia as a replacement for outdated Soviet-era aircraft, but also is used by airlines in other countries, including Armenia and Mexico.

This is the second fatal accident involving the plane. In 2012, a demonstration flight in Indonesia struck a mountain, killing all 45 aboard.

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