PASSENGERS and crew on a Boeing 737 had a miraculous escape today when the aircraft skidded off the runway and into a river in a crash landing then ignited in an inferno.
Panicking passengers jumped onto broken wings then “threw” children to the ground to flee the burning plane – all 170 on board escaped with seconds to spare.
The plane crash landed in a storm and erupted in flames[/caption]
Eighteen were injured as 164 passengers and six crew were evacuated from the burning UTair plane in the Russian resort of Sochi.
There were no fatalities among those on board but one rescuer was reported to have died from a heart attack at the scene.
Emergency chutes did not inflate immediately, said passengers.
At least four people on board the plane were hospitalised with burns, and another suffered a broken spine.
It didn’t quite make the runway in the frightening landing during the bad weather[/caption]
Passengers and crew were seen jumping from the burning aircraft[/caption]
Distressing videos shows the plane erupt in flames – but there was time for passengers and crew to escape using the emergency chutes.
Both wings broke and there was damage to the undercarriage.
Reports on state news agency TASS suggested one wing clipped the ground as the plane landed in bad weather.
The plane aborted several failed landing attempts before the pilot told them he they would touchdown, said rescued passengers.
“The plane attempted to land several times, unsuccessfully, and finally the pilot said we were landing,” said a couple on board the stricken Boeing.
“This wasn’t a success either. We landed, everyone started clapping – and immediately the left side of the plane caught fire,” said one.
“We were sitting right next to emergency exit. Everything happened in a blink of an eye, so, so fast.”
A male passenger said: “Everything happened very quick.
“The emergency exits were open, but there were no chutes people were jumping onto both wings to escape.
The plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Sochi amid bad weather[/caption]
Flames took over the plane as passengers jumped to safety[/caption]
A woman said: “It was rain and thunderstorm outside, and people were just jumping down from five or six metres.”
She said: “People were throwing children down from the wings, and catching them on the ground.”
An emergency source told TASS that at 2.59am local time (12.59am UK time) the plane “hit the ground with one of its wings, skidded off the runway and caught fire”.
The fire was reported to have been extinguished by 3.20am.
In one video a middle-aged passenger in the plane calls anxiously to his wife saying:
“Lyusya, Lyusuaaa!….We crashed. But everything is okay.”
A health ministry statement in Sochi said: “At the moment, there are 18 injured, including three children. There are no fatalities.”
The plane on a two hour flight from Moscow spun off the runway while landing in “atrocious” conditions, according to reports.
All passengers managed to get off safely but some were badly injured[/caption]
The plane crashed at Sochi and saw passengers and crew fleeing in panic[/caption]
“The Boeing737 from Moscow rolled off the runway during landing at Sochi airport and caught fire. According to the preliminary data, six people were injured,” an emergency official said.
“There were 164 passengers and six crew on board. Sochi airport firefighters extinguished the flames and evacuated the people. There are no fatalities,” said UTair, Russia’s fourth largest airline, based in Siberia.
Utair said it was investigating the incident together with aviation authorities.
A spokesperson for the Sochi airport said there were no delays, planes were taking off and landing as usual.
Injured passengers suffered a broken spine, foot injuries and broken ribs.
A criminal probe was opened into the crash landing.
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“A criminal investigation has been opened into the emergency landing… on suspicion of inadequate services with a risk to clients’ health,” said the southern transport department of Russia’s Investigative Committee.
More details were not given.
Earlier today another UTair plane was forced to land on one engine in the Siberian city of Surgut.
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