Pilot lands Ural Airlines plane safely outside Moscow after engines suffer bird strike

Russia has hailed a miracle after a plane carrying 233 passengers made an emergency landing in a cornfield outside Moscow having struck a flock of birds shortly after takeoff.

On Thursday the Ministry of Health said nobody had been killed but 23 people had sustained injuries when the Ural Airlines Airbus 321 came down in a field south-east of Moscow after its engines were disrupted in a collision with a flock of gulls.

State television called the manoeuvre “the miracle over Ramensk” – Ramensk being the region where the plane landed about 0.62 miles (1km) from Zhukovsky international airport.

The Interfax news agency cited a source as saying one person had been seriously injured.

The Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid lauded the pilot Damir Yusupov as a hero, saying he had saved 233 lives, “having masterfully landed a plane without its landing gear with a failing engine right in a cornfield”.

Some compared the landing to that of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in 2009 after it struck a flock of geese.

The Russian plane’s engines were turned off when it made the emergency landing and it also had its landing gear up, said Elena Mikheyeva, a spokeswoman for Russia’s civil aviation authority.

An unnamed passenger interviewed by state television said the plane had started to shake violently shortly after takeoff.

“Five seconds later, the lights on the right side of the plane started flashing and there was a smell of burning. Then we landed and everyone ran away,” he said.

The plane was destined for Simferopol in Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.

Safety concerns have plagued Russia’s airline industry since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, though standards are widely recognised to have sharply risen on international routes in particular in recent years.

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