A packed tourist Airbus-321 has made a terrifying emergency landing in a cornfield after birds got caught both engines shortly after take-off.
The Sun reports that all 226 passengers and crew were reported to have evacuated the Russian aircraft, but there were reports of injuries.
News outlet 112 said that when a bird got into the left engine it caught fire, and at the same time the second engine stopped working.
With one engine on fire passengers reported “a flash and then a smell of smoke”.
Hero pilot Damir Yusupov, 41, called for an emergency landing back at Moscow’s Zhukovsky International Airport but then decided to bring the plane down at the earliest opportunity — in a cornfield near Ramenskoye settlement, 1TV channel reported.
Vladimir Putin’s spokesman hailed Mr Yusupov as a hero after he made an extraordinary manual landing in a cornfield saving the lives of all on board.
Dmitry Peskov said: “The plane’s passengers and crew remained alive, we wish a speedy recovery to those injured, and congratulations to the hero pilots who saved lives and landed the plane.”
He had no engine power when he landed, say reports.
Latest reports say all on board survived the air drama but 23 people received injuries mainly during the emergency evacuation.
One passenger said: “We are standing in the middle of the field.
“One lad broke his arm. Another one broke his finger.
“They told us nothing. The engine clapped several times, they tried to restart it, and we began to fall down.
“I was holding onto the cross around my neck and now I do believe in God.”
A teenage boy passenger who was streaming a report from the field where the plane landed said: “I am from a plane that came down.
“We were taking off from Zhukovsky, and some five seconds after we were off the ground, the plane began to shake in a very strong way.
“In another five seconds the lights on the right side of the plane started flashing and we felt the smell of smoke.
“Then the plane landed and everyone rushed out. All is good.”
Ural Airlines press service said: “While taking off from Zhukovsky airport, multiple birds got into the engines of the plane of the flight U6178.
“The plane had an emergency landing. The crew and passengers were not hurt.”
The plane was packed with tourists en route to Simferopol, capital of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.
A pregnant woman and nine children were among those injured. Three were rushed to hospital after the emergency landing, with one man suffering a broken arm and two children with concussion.
It was later reported that the plane had come down in the cornfield without its landing gear lowered.
A dramatic video from BAZA online news showed a passenger’s recording of the landing.
Screams are heard as the aircraft comes down with a series of jolts on the ground.
The passenger cannot keep control of the camera as the plane hits the field.
‘IT WAS SO SCARY’
One emotional passenger said: “We collapsed, but the hero pilots managed to land the big bird.
“Huge respect to them. I can’t speak in fact, my heart is racing.
“Congratulations to me and all other passengers on surviving … ah, it was so scary.”
Passenger Lyudmila Shavrova said: “We took off and fell back down in the field. The pilot saved all our lives.”
Lyudmila Kolesnikova said: “Damir (the pilot) I bow to you for your professionalism, for every life that you saved today.
“An enormous thank you. Wishing you long, healthy life!”
It emerged the pilot had only learned to fly at the age of 32, despite dreaming of being an airman since childhood, wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps.
He has around 2000 hours flying experience.
An extraordinary drone video from channel NTV shows plane in the cornfield after the accident.
The footage shows how the captain and his co-pilot Georgiy Murzin, 23, used the field to act as a brake, despite the terrifying risk of the aircraft’s fuel tanks bursting into flames.
After the evacuation, passengers rushed to embrace and thank Yusupov and his flight attendants who helped them exit the stricken Airbus.
The captain’s brother Artur Yusupov, 32, said the hero pilot had confirmed to him that birds got into both engines.
He said: “The engines failed.
“There was no way to reach the airport. They had to make an emergency landing in the field.”
The pilot’s parents were described as being “in shock” but “proud” of his actions.
“He has been flying as first pilot for only one year,” said the brother.
Before that he had been a lawyer for a city council, but it had been his dream to be a pilot.
“He always dreamt of the sky,” he said.
“So at the age of 33, he graduated with honours from a flying school.”
The hero captain is married with two children.
His wife Natalia said: “I was in panic, with tears — my little child tried to calm me down, saying ‘Mummy, don’t cry!’
“He was growing up in this atmosphere since his childhood. He dreamt of flying, of the sky.”
The great escape in the cornfield was hailed today as the Moscow version of ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ amid speculation that the pilots will be honoured for miraculously landing the Airbus.
Passengers hugged and clapped the captain and his crew, thanking them for saving their lives.
A video from Mash online news agency shows the emotional moment soon after the evacuation from the cornfield plane.
Reports said there were 16 tonnes of fuel on board the plane when it took off just minutes earlier.
“It is a miracle the pilot landed the plane without it detonating and killing all on board,” said one source.
A video from 360TV highlights the noise when a bird struck the left-wide jet engine.
Another video shows how birds flew into the plane as it took off.
The flight attendants credited with getting people off the plane were: Dmitry Ivlitsky, Dmitry Goncharenko, Aliya Slyakaeva, Yana Yagodina and Nadezhda Vershinina.
The RusMoloko corn farm which owns the corn field said in a statement: “We are very happy indeed that everyone is safe and healthy.
“It was skills of the crew plus our corn field that helped to rescue everyone.
“The corn acted as cushion just as happens when a runway is covered with foam for emergency landings.
“Just imagine would have happened if there was no corn …”
This article originally appeared in The Sun and is republished here with permission