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Sunday 20 October 2019

Hero steward (22) who saved passengers died in Russian air disaster

The gutted Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 after its crash landing in Moscow on Sunday
The gutted Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 after its crash landing in Moscow on Sunday

A 22-year-old steward who died helping passengers escape was among the heroes of an airliner's fiery emergency landing in Moscow on Sunday, which killed 41 of the 78 people on board.

Thousands have signed a petition to ban the Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet 100 involved in the disaster.

Social media posts have called for the flight crew of the Aeroflot flight to Murmansk to be given medals for landing and evacuating the plane after it was reportedly struck by lightning minutes after take-off, knocking out its electronics.

Dmitry Khlebnikov, a passenger seated in the 10th row, said he was only alive thanks to the crew.

"Thank you to the stewardesses, they saved me," he said.

"The girls were standing near us. In the area where there was fuel, where it was dark, where the temperature was the highest, they brought people out of there and helped them get down the slide."

Steward Maxim Moiseyev was near the heart of the inferno in the rear of the plane.

When he could not open the door there, the 22-year-old began helping passengers towards the evacuation slides on the front doors, it was reported.

He refused to leave while passengers were still on board and died in the fire. The plane was without radio communications because of a lightning strike, the pilot has said.

Some of the 37 survivors were seen on video carrying hand luggage as they slid down an inflatable chute from the plane's forward section.

This raised questions about whether grabbing baggage may have impeded an evacuation in which every second could cost lives.

Passenger Mikhail Savchenko wrote on Facebook that some passengers grabbed luggage as they fled the plane.

"I do not know what to say about people who ran out with bags. God is their judge," he wrote.

The plane, operated by Russ- ian flagship carrier Aeroflot, had taken off from Sheremetyevo but turned back within minutes, asking for an emergency landing.

It came down hard on the runway and flames and black smoke burst from its underside.

Jettison

The plane reportedly did not jettison any fuel before the landing, as is common procedure. It was not clear why it did not.

Pilot Denis Evdokimov was quoted as saying: "Because of lightning, we had a loss of radio communication."

Russia's main investigative body said both of the plane's flight recorders, data and voice, have been recovered.

Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko was also quoted as saying investigators were looking into three main possibilities behind the cause of the disaster: inexperienced pilots, equipment failure and bad weather.

Fierce storms were passing through the Moscow area as the plane made its emergency landing.

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