A passenger jet crashed after making a hard landing at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport. At least four people were killed and four critically injured, says the Interior Ministry. Officials believe the cause could be pilot error.
Two people were reportedly found dead at the scene, while a 27-year-old woman died on the way to hospital. Whether the fourth person died at the scene or in the ambulance remains unclear. Those killed are the captain, the co-pilot, the flight engineer and a flight attendant, the Emergencies Ministry declared.
Four people taken to Moscow hospitals – three flight attendants and a technical staff – remain in a critical condition. They have sustained traumatic brain injuries, say medical officials.
The plane was flying in from Pardubice, the Czech Republic, and was carrying eight to twelve people according to various reports. Vnukovo Airport says that everyone onboard were the crew. Pardubice Airport confirms that:
“There was only the crew aboard. No Czech nationals were among them. Before taking off the operating company checked all the plane’s systems and said they were functioning normally,” Pardubice's press-service told Gazeta.ru. The service added the plane, tail number RA-64047, had taken tourists to Pardubice and was going back without any passengers.
Two more people might have been on board the crashed plane as ten people had registered for the flight, reports Interfax citing sources. But as emergency crews wrapped up their search operation, they failed to find anybody else. It appears that passers-by could have rushed at least one injured person to hospital on their own car.
Two black boxes were recovered from the scene of the passenger jet crash, according tot he Investigative Committee.
“Both flight data recorders have been found. Investigators are examining them. Then they will be handed over to decoding experts,” the official spokesman of Investigative Committee Vladimir Markin said.
A criminal case over possible flight safety violations has been opened in connection with the Vnukovo plane crash. The preliminary cause of the TU-204 accident is pilots’ error, Markin added.
The incident took place at around 16:35 local time (12:35 GMT). Preliminary reports say the jet, which belongs to Russian low-cost airline Red Wings, crashed after taking a second landing attempt. It rolled out from the runway into Kievskoye Highway, fell into three pieces and caught fire. The fire area of 100 square meters was extinguished by firefighters, officials said.
Media allege that Vnukovo firefighting cars were on repair so the first emergency crews appeared on the scene no earlier than 50 minutes after the blaze broke out.
The circumstances of the incident are being clarified. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered to set up a special investigation group to look into the accident.
Earlier, the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry confirmed that the plane had to make a forced landing.