A stewardess who was one of the crew members working on the Russian plane that erupted into flames yesterday in Moscow has told of the terror in the plane after the fire began.
Tatyana Kasatkina, 34, is now being hailed a hero after she reportedly kicked open an exit door to help passengers escape the inferno on board the plane.
Tatyana said she grabbed passengers by their collars and pushed them to safety as the plane’s engine caught fire after an emergency landing in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport yesterday.
While some passengers were able to run to safety, others were slowed down by customers trying to retrieve their luggage. Survivors said that people in the back of the cabin were stuck in their seats because passengers further forward grabbed their hand luggage before exiting, thereby blocking those at the back from leaving. Footage seen online shows passengers emerging carrying bags and coats.
Of the 78 passengers and crew on board, 41 died. At least two of them are children and one was a crew member who was trying to open a door at the rear of the plane to enable passengers escape from there.
Tatyana said: “When the plane stopped, the evacuation immediately began. The fire was visible. Everyone was shouting that we were on fire, but there was no fire inside the cabin at this moment.
“I kicked the door out with my leg and pushed out the passengers so as not to slow the evacuation. Just to hurry them up I grabbed each of them by the collar from the back.
“It was all so quick. The smoke was already black. The last people were crawling to get out.
“Everyone had jumped from their seats and moved forwards, although the plane was still moving at a good speed. I saw the first woman calling somebody on her phone and saying, we are on fire, we are falling down.”
Terrifying new footage has revealed how the plane bounced down the runway before catching fire.
The Superjet plane had just taken off from the Sheremetyevo airport for a domestic flight to Murmansk. But it returned to the airport to make an emergency landing.
Tatyana said there was a heavy hail storm moment after takeoff from the international airport, before the plane was struck by lightning.
She said: “There was a flash followed by popping. A bright light flash. We took off and got into a cloud and it was hailing. There was such a noise outside [as hail hit the plane].
“At that moment it was a popping, mainly on the ….left side… Everyone was looking at me looked at me. There was popping and a flash, like an electric flash.
“The flight deck informed us that we were returning to our home airport.”
But the plane’s internal communications malfunctioned and she could barely hear the pilot when he ordered her to prepare for an emergency landing.
She said: “I could not understand who was calling, a pilot or a steward. That was it, we were flying back home.”
In footages shared online, the struggling Superjet plane can be seen trying to land but it bounced off the tarmac, flew back into the air, and remained airborne before collapsing to the ground seconds later. The new security footage shows a fireball erupting from the fuselage as the damaged plane careers along the runway with a huge cloud of smoke trailing behind it.
The flight attendant who died in the flames has been named as Maxim Moissev. He died while trying to open a door at the rear of the plane.
Albina Pilipchuk and Alexey Gultaichuk have been named as two of the victims of the crash, along with American Jeremy Brooks.
Russian officials are still probing the cause of the crash. There are three theories: insufficient pilot qualifications, equipment failure, and weather.
Both flight recorders have today been recovered, which will allow investigators to examine what went wrong aboard a plane which pilot Denis Evdokimov said had been hit by lightning.
Watch videos from the scene of the crash below.