Russia bird strike: 23 injured after plane hits gulls and crash-lands

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Media captionThe aircraft’s pilots were praised for the emergency landing

A Russian passenger plane has made an emergency landing in a cornfield near Moscow after striking a flock of birds.

Twenty-three people were injured in the incident, which saw the plane land with its engines off and landing gear retracted, health officials said.

The Ural Airlines Airbus 321 was travelling to Simferopol in Crimea when it hit the flock of gulls shortly after take-off, disrupting its engines.

State media has dubbed the landing the “miracle over Ramensk”.

The airline said the plane was significantly damaged and would not fly again. An official investigation is under way.

The plane had 233 passengers and crew on board when the birds were reportedly sucked into its engines and the crew immediately decided to land.

An unnamed passenger told state TV the plane started to shake violently after take-off.

“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.

Air transport agency Rosaviatsia said the plane landed in a cornfield about a kilometre (0.62 miles) from the runway at Zhukovsky International Airport, with its engines off and landing gear retracted.

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Passengers are crew were evacuated from the plane after the emergency landing

Passengers were evacuated from the plane, with some taken to hospital for treatment and others directed back to the airport.

The health ministry said five children were among those hospitalised following the crash. Those injured in the incident were “considered to be in serious or fair condition”, it said.

Ural Airlines Director General Kirill Skuratov told Tass that passengers who wanted to continue with their trip would be put on alternative flights following medical examinations.

Russian media compared the incident to the US Airways flight that carried out an emergency landing on the Hudson River shortly after take-off in 2009.

Collisions between birds and planes are a common occurrence in aviation, with thousands reported every year in the US alone. However, they rarely result in accidents or cause damage to the aircraft.