The Russian Su-34 which smashed into an apartment block last week in a huge fireball killing 15 people malfunctioned after seagulls entered the engine, investigators have said.
The fighter-bomber was taking off from an airfield in the southern Russian city of Yeysk, near the border with Ukraine, on Monday evening when it plunged from the sky moments later with one engine on fire — slamming into the ground in front of an apartment block and dousing the building in burning fuel.
Both pilots ejected safely, with footage showing one of them on the ground nearby still attached to his parachute.
Investigators probing the crash say it was caused by two seagulls entering the engines during takeoff.
TASS news agency was told: ‘Their remains were found by experts while examining the wreckage of the aircraft.’
It comes as remarkable new footage has emerged showing the terrifying final seconds before the warplane flew into the apartment block.
A Russian Su-34 fighter bomber jet crashed next to an apartment block in the city of Yeysk, setting the building on fire as the pilots ejected (circled)
The damaged apartment block in the Russian city of Yeysk after a military jet crashed close by it, throwing one wheel of the aircraft into the side of the building (centre left)
Emergency workers load debris of a warplane on a truck at the scene of a plane crash in a residential area in Yeysk
The Russian Su-34 which smashed into an apartment block last week in a huge fireball killing 15 people malfunctioned after seagulls entered the engine
The video is formed from a car, with a woman’s voice telling the driver: ‘Sasha get out of here, fast…!’
Then she sees people fleeing for their lives and tells him to take care.
‘People, there are people,’ she says. ‘Careful not to knock anyone down…’
The footage shows the low-flying bomber at 18:16 and 56 seconds, we see the plane entering the frame from the right.
It apparently has an on board fire.
At 18:17.00 there is a loud bang coinciding with the pilots ejecting.
18.17.02, the plane hits the yard of the apartment block and erupts in a fireball.
Afterwards as people fled, reports say explosives were heard from the crash site.
The plane had ammunition on board which exploded when the aircraft hit the yard of the apartment block.
The crewmen may have ejected after they realised a crash was inevitable and could not fly the plane away from the residential building.
The death toll in the apartment block has hit 15, including three children and three adults who jumped from a burning apartment block after a Russian military jet crashed next to the building and set it on fire.
The Russian military said the men were taking part in training when the crash happened and the stranded pilot can be heard denying the craft was shot down as people try to help him.
The crash was yet another humiliating loss for Putin’s beleaguered air force, which has now suffered ten non-combat crashes since the start of the war.
His pilots have also failed to destroy Ukraine’s much smaller air force and are limited to operating behind Russian lines after failing to take out Kyiv’s air defences.
Investigators probing the crash say it was caused by two seagulls entering the engines during takeoff
Video showed one of the pilots on the floor and still attached to his parachute shortly after the crash (left) and right, denying the plane was shot down as people try to help him
The chassis of a Sukhoi Su-34 military jet sticks out of the partially destroyed nine-storey apartment building after it crashed in the courtyard of a residential area
Footage of the pilot lying on the ground also appears to capture the sound of explosions in the background, sparking rumours on Russian social media that the plane was flying a combat mission and ammunition detonated after it came down.
But Krasnodar regional governor Veniamin Kondratyev denied this, saying the explosions were fuel tanks bursting.
Russian outlet Zvezdanews reported the fire was extinguished with the help of 410 firefighters and emergency services personnel.
Deputy governor Anna Minkova said additional beds were being prepared for injured civilians, adding: ‘Specialists of the burn department from regional clinical hospitals have been sent to Yeysk.’
Putin was informed of the fire and ordered ‘all necessary assistance be given to casualties from the military plane incident’, the Kremlin told state-run news agency TASS.
The plane narrowly missed a kindergarten with 150 children.
The Su-34 bomber was on a training flight when it malfunctioned and ploughed into the block of flats in Yeysk, a resort city on the Sea of Azov near Crimea
The Russian ministry of defence said: ‘On October 17, 2022, while climbing to perform a training flight from the military airfield of the southern military district, a Su-34 aircraft crashed. The aircraft crashed within the city of Yeysk.
‘According to the report of the ejected pilots, the cause of the plane crash was the ignition of one of the engines during take-off.
‘At the site of the crash of the Su-34 in the courtyard of one of the residential areas, the fuel of the aircraft ignited.’
In a similar blow to Putin, another Russian fighter pilot was forced to eject from his burning plane moments before it crashed and exploded.
Newly-released helmet camera footage captures the pilot bailing out of an Su-25 jet as it spirals out of control, believed to be over Belgorod, in Russia, back in June.
It is thought the jet in question had clipped a nearby power line, breaking off one of its tail fins and causing it to plunge to the ground.
But pro-Ukraine sources claimed it had actually been shot down.
This is the moment the pilot of a Russian Su-25 jet ejected as the aircraft burst into flames and then came crashing back to earth
It is thought the newly-released footage captures a crash that happened over Belgorod – a region of Russia – back in June
Russian war bloggers had reported the crash at the time it happened, along with footage of the plane’s wreckage burning in a field.
They said that ‘according to preliminary data, the aircraft hit a power line pole.’
But new video released for the first time on Sunday captures the crash from the pilot’s point of view.
The footage appears to start moments after the aircraft was struck – either by some kind of anti-aircraft missile or a power line.
The jet begins to twist in the air as the pilot loses control, before the aircraft turns sideways and rolls upside down.
Halfway through the roll the pilot ejects – capturing an astonishing glimpse of his own plane as it flies away into the distance.
Parts of the aircraft are breaking off as it falls and there is a fire in one of the engines.
Half of the rear upright tail fin appears to be missing. There are ‘V’ war makings on the fuselage, and a red ’09’ number on the side.
Online observers believe the plane is likely to be an Su-25SM aircraft based out of Russia’s far east that had been relocated to Ukraine to fight in the war.
Footage captures the pilot (visible in a rear-view mirror, left) losing control of the aircraft at a low altitude before hitting the eject button
Video shows the pilot’s parachute deploying before he drifts back down to earth and lands in a field, near the wreckage of his plane
Pro-Ukraine sources sharing the footage claimed it showed the plane being shot down, but internet sleuths believe it may have actually clipped a power line
The pilot’s parachute is seen deploying before he floats back down to earth as his jet slams into the ground several hundred yards away and explodes.
On Sunday, an Su-30 plane taking part in a training flight over Irkutsk – eastern Russia – nose-dived into the ground, killing both of its pilots.
Those airmen have since been named as Maxim Konyushin, 50 and a renowned test pilot, and Major Viktor Kryukov, 43.
The exact cause of the crash remains a mystery, though information has emerged that both pilots may have blacked out in the cockpit.
A second plane was sent up to make contact with the doomed aircraft after it failed to respond to calls from the Irkutsk Aviation Plant and began circling on autopilot.
The aircraft is though to have circled ‘for a considerable period’ before their fuel ran out and the plane plunged to earth.
The crew of the second plane saw the pilots ‘with their heads hanging down low, in other words, they both blacked out’, a source at the testing plant said.
The insider told SibReal media that shocking safety abuses were common at the plant – one of Russia’s major aircraft manufacturers.
Maxim Konyushin, 50 (left), a renowned Russian test pilot and Major Viktor Kryukov, 43 (right) were killed on Sunday after their Su-30 jet crashed
The pilots were taking the jet on a test flight above the city of Irkutsk, eastern Russia, when it nose-dived into the ground and exploded
‘Given the quality of pre- and post flight checks, I am not surprised at all,’ said the source. Boxes were ticked but safety measures were not carried out properly.
‘Clearly if both pilots fainted simultaneously, something was wrong with the cabin’s [air pressure]’.
Yet another eyewitness disputed that account, saying: ‘I watched it fly. The plane soared sharply upwards, and then began to fall, like a stone, downwards.’
Air Force major Andrei Krasnoperov said that a fault was likely with oxygen on the plane.
But experts cited by Readovka media disputed that the plane was on autopilot and had run out of fuel, since its engines were heard functioning when it crashed.
‘There was no attempt to straighten the flight line by the pilots during the crash, which confirms the version of at least unconsciousness of the people on board,’ said the report.
‘Fighter pilots have to wear oxygen masks during the whole flight, so system malfunction might have been the cause of unconsciousness.’