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Fiery plane crash in Russia claims the lives of more than 40 people amid stormy weather

Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist

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At least 41 people died following the fiery crash landing of a Russian passenger jet near at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday, according to the Associated Press. Six other people were being hospitalized following the incident.

The plane took off around 6 p.m., local time, and was in the air for less than 30 minutes before returning to the airport for an emergency landing.

AP Russia 5/6

The Sukhoi SSJ100 aircraft of Aeroflot airlines is covered in fire retardant foam after an emergency landing in Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, May 5, 2019. (Moscow News Agency photo via AP)

Showers were reported across the Moscow area at the time of the incident, and thunderstorms were occurring north and west of the city along the plane's intended flight path to Murmansk.

Russia's Investigative Committee recovered the plane's black boxes and are looking into possible causes for the deadly landing, ranging from inexperienced pilots to equipment failure and bad weather.

AP Russia 2 5/6

This image taken from a video distributed by Russian Investigative Committee on Sunday, May 5, 2019, shows the Sukhoi SSJ100 aircraft of Aeroflot Airlines on fire, at Sheremetyevo airport, outside Moscow, Russia. (The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation via AP)

Passengers said the plane was struck by lightning shortly after take-off, and crew members also said lightning appeared to be responsible for a loss of communication resulting in the emergency landing, according to BBC News.

The plane was traveling too fast for its first attempted emergency landing and on the second the automatic systems failed, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

Witnesses said the plane burst into flames after making a hard landing on the runway and continued to burn after coming to a stop.

Survivors were seen leaping out of the burning plane using emergency gear and then running away from the still-burning plane.