MOSCOW, May 6. /TASS/. /TASS/. The mayor of Severomorsk, a restricted-access city in Russia’s northwestern Murmansk region, who was onboard the ill-fated plane that crash landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday, has told TASS he had seen lightning striking into the plane’s right-hand engine twice while the plane was in midair.
"I heard two loud whangs and turned my head to see two flashings near the right-hand engine. These were lightning strikes. But the engine did not caught fire, it caught fire later when the plane touched the ground, bounced and touched the ground again, i.e. after it hit the ground for the second time," said Vladimir Yevmenkov.
He said the evacuation had proceeded without panic, with the flight attendants being highly professional. "Until the plane stopped and while the flight attendants were opening the doors, people were standing in the aisle. It took some time. Should they have rushed to the door in panic we could hardly have survived," he noted, adding that there were problems with the left-hand emergency exit door and it was dark in the cabin.
"At first, only one emergency exit door was opened, on the right side, and only some time later the left-hand door was opened too. People were standing in the aisle letting those before them leave the plane. I did not smell any burning ordor. We did not see what was going on in the tail section. There was no light in the cabin but it was light outside," he recalled.
An Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 passenger plane (flight SU1492) with 73 passengers and five crewmembers onboard that was bound for Murmansk caught fire while crash landing at Sheremetyevo Airport shortly after the takeoff on Sunday.
Forty-one people died, nine more were taken to hospital.
A criminal case was opened after the incident on charges of violating flight safety rules entailing the death of two or more people. Investigators are looking at several theories of the crash, including pilot’s insufficient skills, a technical malfunction and unfavorable weather conditions.