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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Il-86 Crash at Sheremetyevo Kills 14

APFirefighters hosing down the charred wreckage of an Pulkovo Airlines Il-86 passenger jet that crashed shortly after takeoff from Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday afternoon.
A Pulkovo Airlines Il-86 passenger jet slammed into woods shortly after taking off from Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday, killing 14 of the 16 people on board.

The wide-body aircraft, which can seat up to 350 passengers, was widely considered Russia's safest having never suffered a fatal crash in its nearly 30-year history.

The Il-86 with two pilots and 14 other crew members took off at 3:18 p.m. and reached a height of about 200 meters before plummeting to the ground and bursting into flames, airport officials and eyewitness said.

A plume of thin smoke was drifting up from the charred wreckage several hours after the crash. Only the tail section of the plane remained relatively intact. The two survivors had been seated in the rear section.

The plane was flying empty to St. Petersburg from the Black Sea resort of Sochi after completing a charter flight, said Vadim Sanzharov, the Sheremetyevo director who was in charge of operations Sunday.

The two survivors, flight attendants Tatyana Moiseyeva and Arina Vinogradova, were hospitalized. Moiseyeva suffered a head injury and remained in serious condition Sunday night, RTR television reported.

Mike Solovyanov / MT

Brazil's Security officers examining the wreckage of the Il-86 in woods near Sheremetyevo.
Vinogradova miraculously suffered only a broken wrist and various cuts and bruises, said Dmitry Fedorovsky at the Botkin Hospital.

"I told her that she should start writing her memoirs because it is unique to survive such a catastrophe," he said in televised remarks.

Eyewitnesses described what could have been a stall, when an aircraft falls or goes out of control after attempting to climb with insufficient airspeed.

"The plane was heading upward, and everything seemed normal," said Andrei Korotayev, 15. "Then suddenly it looked as if the plane had stopped. After that it started falling down flat."

He said the plane then banked slightly to the left and struck the ground, exploding in a ball of fire.

"We heard screams for help," said his friend, Sergei Durygin, also 15.

Sheremetyevo Airport shut down for about an hour.

Sanzharov said it was too early to identify the cause of the crash. "But there was a loss of engine power," he said on RTR television.

He said investigators from various agencies including the Federal Security Service were looking into the crash.

The Il-86 was being flown by flight commander Konstantin Ivanov and co-pilot Vladimir Voronov. "Ivanov was an experienced pilot who had flown for a few decades," said Alexander Shestakov, the Pulkovo Airlines official on duty at Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg.

Pulkovo Airlines had a fleet of nine Il-86s, all built in the 1980s, he said.

The airline's last fatal accident was in 1991, when a Tu-154 jet broke in half during a hard landing in St. Petersburg. Twelve people died.

The 14 bodies of those killed Sunday were recovered within a few hours of the crash, Interfax reported. Rescue workers and investigators were still sifting through the wreckage late Sunday night.

All three flight recorders have been found, Interfax said.

The Il-86 has enjoyed a near-perfect safety record since it started regular passenger flights in December 1980. In September last year, an Aeroflot Il-86 made an emergency landing in Dubai after an engine caught fire. All 307 passengers and 14 crew members escaped uninjured.

Ilyushin has built 103 of the aircraft.

The large size and safety record of the plane has made it a favorite in Russia. President Vladimir Putin flies in an Il-86, and three modified Il-86s, known as the Il-80, serve as mobile command posts for the military in case of war.

Staff Writer Lyuba Pronina contributed to this report.