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Russian plane fire: At least 41 dead after aircraft burst into flames due to emergency landing

May 7 (AZINS) At least 41 people on board a Russian passenger plane were killed after it caught fire while making an emergency landing at a Moscow airport yesterday, authorities said on Monday. A total of 71 people were on board including 5 members of the crew.

Televised footage showed the Aeroflot flight SU 1492 sliding down the runway at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport with much of the rear part of the plane engulfed in flames, CNN reported.

After the plane had come to a halt, passengers were seen using emergency slides from the plane's two forward doors to escape the burning plane.

Initial reports said that the Moscow-bound plane was en route to Murmansk, a Russian city in the Arctic Circle when an emergency on board forced it to turn back.

State media reported that a "loss of communication" caused by a "lightning strike" had led to the decision to return to Sheremetyevo.

However, no official cause has yet been provided for the disaster.

Shortly after the take off from around 6 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET), the Russian-made Superjet-100, which was carrying 73 passengers and five crew members, requested an emergency landing. It returned to Sheremetyevo airport after 30 minutes in the air.

Elena Markovskaya, a spokeswoman for Russia's Investigative Committee, was quoted as saying 37 people survived, five of whom are currently receiving treatment in hospital.

An American citizen was also killed in the plane crash, state media reported.

Aeroflot, Russia's unofficial national carrier, in a statement said that the flight crew "did everything in its power to save passenger lives and provide emergency assistance to those involved."

"Tragically, they were unable to save all of those aboard," the statement added.

TASS news agency reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a "thorough investigation" into the fiery emergency landing of the Aeroflot jet.

Meanwhile, the Investigative Committee said in a statement on Monday that it was examining "various versions" that might have caused the crash landing, including the qualifications of the pilots, air-traffic controllers and maintenance personnel, aircraft malfunction and adverse weather conditions.