The death toll has jumped to 41 people, including two children, who were killed Sunday in a fiery airplane accident at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, a spokeswoman for the Russian Investigative Committee said.
The Sukhoi SSJ100 operated by national airline Aeroflot had 78 passengers and five crew members on board when it touched down and sped down a runway spewing huge flames and black smoke.
According to Russian news agencies, the plane had taken off for the northern city of Murmansk, but a fire broke out while the flight was airborne. Social media videos show the plane engulfed in flames after it landed. Some news reports cited sources as saying the plane bounced several times during the landing.
Emergency vehicles arrived at the airport to assist passengers moving away from the plane — some holding luggage — and fight the flames, which were coming out of the airplane’s rear section. It’s unclear what caused the fire.
“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.
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.
This isn’t the first time the Sukhoi Superjet has been involved in a high-profile incident. In 2012, a Sukhoi Superjet crashed in Indonesia during a demonstration flight for potential investors, killing all 45 people aboard. The aircraft is Russia’s first new model of passenger jet since the fall of the Soviet Union.