Hero flight attendant 'died saving passengers from Moscow jet inferno'

6 May 2019, 09:11 | Updated: 6 May 2019, 15:41

Cabin crew on the jet that turned into a fireball at a Moscow airport are being hailed as heroes, with one reportedly dying in the flames as he fought to save passengers.

While his colleagues helped people down a ramp at the front, 22-year-old Maxim Moiseev was trying to open the rear exit as the plane landed in flames.

He stayed inside the Aeroflot jet, pushing people towards the inflatable ramp, according to Russia's Tass news agency.

Forty-one people died and 33 passengers survived after Sunday's disaster at Sheremetyevo International Airport, authorities have said.

A source told Tass: "(Maxim Moiseev) was trying to open the rear exit door to quickly evacuate the passengers from the tail that was ablaze.

"He didn't succeed and started helping people to leave the plane."

The flight attendant was on board until everyone was evacuated and died in the fire, the source added.

Another crew member, Tatyana Kasatkina, is said to have kicked open the front exit and pushed passengers down the chute.

Most of those who died are believed to have been choked by the smoke, according to a Tass source.

The plane is thought to have been hit by lightning shortly after take off - disabling the radio and other systems, reported Russia's Interfax news agency.

Part of the landing gear was then destroyed when it touched down heavily back at the airport.

"It looks like pieces of the broken landing gear hit the left-side fuel tank and completely destroyed it. Fuel spewed out, and the fire broke out as a result," a source told Interfax.

So far, Aeroflot has only said the plane was forced to turn back for "technical reasons".

Russia's transport minister Yevgeny Dietrich has said 41 bodies have been recovered and that six survivors are in a serious condition.

Speaking on Monday, he also said the Sukhoi Superjet 100 involved in the disaster would not be grounded.

Video of the plane's emergency landing showed it rebound on landing and the tail end swamped by flames.

When it came to a stop, an inflatable evacuation slide was deployed and passengers jumped to safety on the runway tarmac.

The plane - which had been bound for the northern city of Murmansk - reportedly had full fuel tanks when landed just 20 minutes after taking off.

Russian news agencies said investigators were looking into three main causes: improperly trained pilots, equipment failure and bad weather.

Both flight recorders have been recovered.

The SSJ-100 is largely used in Russia as a replacement for outdated Soviet-era aircraft, but is also used by airlines in other countries, including Armenia and Mexico.

It has been involved in a fatal accident once before, in 2012, when a demonstration flight in Indonesia struck a mountain, killing all 45 aboard.