The Latest: Russian pilot says plane was struck by lightning

MOSCOW — The Latest on the deadly plane fire at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport (all times local):

2:25 p.m.

Russian media have quoted the pilot of the airliner that burst into flames during an emergency landing in Moscow as saying the plane was without radio communications because of a lightning strike.

Sunday's fire killed 41 of the 78 people aboard the Aeroflot plane.

The plane had taken off for Murmansk in stormy weather, but quickly turned back for an emergency landing. The plane made a hard landing and flames erupted.

Pilot Denis Evdokimov was quoted as saying by Zvezda TV and the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper that "because of lightning, we had a loss of radio communication."

State TV quoted flight attendant Tatiana Kasatnika as saying "We took off, got into a cloud, there was strong hail, and at that moment there was a pop and some kind of flash, like electricity."

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12:05 p.m.

Russia's transportation minister says 41 bodies have been recovered from the burned wreckage of an Aeroflot plane at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.

Minister Yevgeny Dietrich also told reporters in a Monday briefing that six people who survived the disaster Sunday night have been hospitalized.

The plane, a Sukhoi SSJ100, caught fire while making an emergency landing at the airport, after turning back on a flight to Murmansk for unspecified reasons.

Russia's Investigative Committee says the flight recorders from the plane have been recovered and that investigators are looking into inexperienced pilots, equipment failure and bad weather as possible causes for the disaster.

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11:50 a.m.

Russia's main investigative body says both flight recorders have been recovered from the plane that caught fire while making an emergency landing at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, killing at least 40 people.

Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko was also quoted by Russian news agencies on Monday as saying investigators are looking into three main possibilities behind the cause of the disaster: insufficient pilot qualifications, equipment failure and weather.

Video on Russian TV showed the plane's underside bursting into flames and spewing black smoke after making a hard landing Sunday night. Those who escaped leapt out of the plane down inflatable emergency slides and ran across the tarmac.

Storms were passing through the Moscow area as when the Aeroflot SSJ100 regional jet caught fire during the emergency landing, after it turned back for unspecified reasons en route to Murmansk.

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