Friends and family of those tragically killed in the Russian plane crash near Moscow on Sunday have shared their heartbreak with RT, fondly remembering the victims they so dearly loved.
Larisa, a friend of a crash victim named Lyudmila, remembered her companion’s kindness.
“Lyudmila was such a nice person. Always ready to help. There are few people like her…I feel so sorry for her daughter,” she said while fighting back tears.
Artyom, the friend of Sergey, a pilot killed in the crash, said his friend had “always wanted to be a pilot” and “loved everything related to flying.”
Elena, the wife of one of the crash victims, tearfully told RT about her husband.
“We haven’t seen him for three months because he was working. Now we won’t see him ever again.”
RT’s Murad Gazdiev traveled to the scene of the crash to speak with nearby witnesses of the tragedy.
“I was watching TV and heard the bang. Everyone heard the noise,” one woman said. Another resident said she “heard a loud clap,” which caused her entire bed to lift up. “My cats hid, it was really loud.”
“I would say it sounded like an explosion,” one man said. “Our house bounced.”
Meanwhile, Maksim Kolomeitsev, who had originally planned to be on the flight, spoke to RT about his lucky escape.
“I turn 37 today. I wanted to celebrate my birthday with my family, my friends, and my girlfriend in Orsk,” he said. “My friend who would have met me at the airport called me today and told me what happened. At first, I didn’t believe him. Later, when I saw the news, what can I say? I felt a chill down my spine.”
Although the cause of the crash is currently unknown, RT has spoken to multiple aviation experts who speculated about the likely scenarios.
Commercial airline pilot Keith Wolzinger told RT that the weather is “probably the primary factor” that caused the crash.
“That depends a lot on the rate of the snowfall or precipitation and how long the airplane had been sitting on the ground collecting all that material… The fact that the airplane became airborne and climbed to 6,000 feet [1,829] tells me that probably the airplane was in pretty good shape at the time of take-off,” Wolzinger said.
The Saratov Airlines plane was a Russian-made An-148 that had been in operation since May 2010. The airline claims it had carried out all the necessary technical maintenance ahead of the crash, which killed 71 people. However, the same plane was previously involved in several safety incidents, including engine and fuselage problems.