Plane Crash Survivor: 'I Was the Last to Walk Out. No one Else Followed'

A picture taken from the airport window shows remains of a Russian-made Superjet-100 at Sheremetyevo Airport outside Moscow on May 6. A survivor has described how he managed to escape the aircraft. MARIA ANTONOVA/AFP/Getty Images

A passenger onboard the Russian airplane that caught fire following an emergency landing in which 41 people died, spoke of his dramatic escape from the burning fuselage.

Oleg Malchanov, 35, and his wife were among the 33 people who managed to scramble to safety after the Sukhoi Superjet 100 burst into flames on the runway of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday.

Malchanov, a 35-year-old entrepreneur from Murmansk, where the plane was heading, said the couple were returning to the city in the Arctic Circle after a holiday.

Sitting in a window seat in the 12th row by the wing, he said he had a good view of a lightning strike that hit the plane as it flew into the cloud and "lit up the wing."

While there was little in the way of detail, passengers were informed the plane would return to the airport "for technical reasons," and there were no further announcements.

He told news outlet Meduza: "After the lightning strike, we weren't shaken, the plane was descending evenly and there was no panic before the first strike on landing. I was expecting a very strong strike but actually it turned out not to be too severe" he said, although people onboard started screaming.

Seeing that there was the start of a crush in the aisle from the panicking passengers, he and his wife initially stayed in their seats after the plane hit the ground.

"I saw how the fire started, and it spread instantly."

Footage showed the stricken Russian plane bouncing down the runway before bursting into flames with a huge cloud of smoke trailing behind it.

"When the plane came to a stop, I pushed my wife forward. There was no time to talk. The window was melting before my eyes.

"People in several rows were crawling on their hands. Then I realized that I was losing consciousness. I lay down on the floor and crawled to the area between the cockpit and business class.

"Then I couldn't see my wife so sitting against the cockpit I looked out for her." He said the smoke was beginning to affect the survivors.

There have been reports that the evacuation of the aircraft had been slowed down by passengers grabbing their luggage stored in the overhead lockers. One passenger, Dmitry Khlebushkin, was accused of blocking the aisle while stopping to get his backpack.

The flight attendant, Tatyana Kasatkina, 34, told The Sun she kicked open the door, grabbed some people by the collar and pushed them to safety as they were delayed by passengers grabbing their bags.

But Malchanov told Meduza: "I cannot say anything about the luggage, which everyone is talking about. They definitely didn't get in my way.

"I was the last to walk out. No one else followed," he added.

Investigators are still looking into the cause of the crash and believe pilot error may have been to blame.

The newspaper Kommersant quoted unnamed sources as saying the pilots of Flight SU1492 made mistakes, including flying into a thunderstorm and then landing with a full tank of fuel rather than circling to use it up.

The business daily RBK, as cited by Radio Free Europe, reported that after the plane landed, the pilots opened a cockpit window, which may have fanned flames inside the craft.