- Damir Yusupov landed an Airbus A321 in a cornfield after the bird strike
- Aerial video showed the jet cutting across rows of corn on diagonal path
- Twenty-three people aboard were injured but no one died, officials said
At a time when good news seems hard to come by, Russians are hailing a pilot who safely landed an Airbus A321 in a cornfield Thursday after the jet struck a flock a seagulls on takeoff and lost power in both engines.
Twenty-three people aboard were injured but no one died, officials said.
Damir Yusupov can take his place alongside Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who landed his United Airlines plane in New York's Hudson River in 2009 after a similar bird strike cut out its engines.
"The Ural Airlines crew showed fantastic skill and endurance. The aircraft commander is Yekaterinburg [resident] Damir Yusupov. He and his team saved 233 lives. Heroes," said the governor of the Sverdlovsk Region, Yevgeny Kuyvashev, as reported by Varlamov.ru. The co-pilot was identified as Grigory Murzin.
The jet was headed from Moscow's Zhukovsky Airport to Simferopol, in Crimea, carrying 226 passengers and seven crew. The bird strike happened a minute after takeoff, about 40 seconds earlier in the flight than Sullenberger had been when he ran into a flock of geese as his plane was climbing from LaGuardia Airport.
Sound on a video taken by a passenger appeared to show the crew repeatedly trying to restart the engines. Two thin trails of smoke streamed aft from the front of the engine.
"I held onto a cross, now I definitely believe in God," an unidentified passenger told gazeta.ru.
The plane belly-flopped without its landing gear deployed in a field more than two miles from the runway, according to news reports. Aerial video showed that the plane cut across the rows of corn on a diagonal path, crossing an irrigation ditch moments after hitting the ground and coming to a stop only a short distance beyond that.
The August corn is at nearly its full height; photos showed the tassels reaching almost to the plane's windshield. The passengers were able to get off via the emergency chutes and walk to a clearing. Firefighters responded but there was apparently no fire.
The 23 who were hurt were taken to a nearby hospital. One woman was admitted, the Health Ministry reported, and the others were treated and released.
Ural Airlines said it would fly the passengers who still wanted to go to Simferopol later Thursday.
The landing comes as forest fires rage in parts of Siberia, protesters continue to push for political rights in the face of brutal police tactics in Moscow, and less than a week after an explosion involving nuclear materials took place at a military testing ground - and that's just in Russia.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)