Moscow: A Russian passenger plane carrying 81 people made a "miracle" crash landing at a deserted air strip deep in the Siberian taiga after a complete mid-flight power failure, officials said today.
The Tupolev (TU-154) airliner en route to Moscow yesterday was forced to glide down from its cruising altitude with no working navigation gear and at a high speed after its wing flaps failed, the general prosecutor`s office said.
The 72 passengers, including three children, and nine crew members were in shock but unhurt after the pilot guided his plane down onto the defunct runway, overgrown with weeds, television images showed.
"After its electrical equipment failed, the crew was forced to land the plane. The landing was manual, without radio contact," the prosecutors` office said in a statement.
Forced down at the tiny air strip built for helicopter use, the passenger liner overshot the tarmac, tearing through 200 metres of forest brush before coming to rest, it said.
The plane, operated by Alrosa Mirny Air Enterprise, which belongs to diamond monopoly Alrosa, now lies sunk in a bog beyond the disused air field, near the village of Izhma in Russia`s far northern Komi region, 1,500 kilometres from Moscow.
Local blogs and twitter pages buzzed with calls for Russia to award the airliner`s pilot a medal for his "miraculous" and "heroic" landing.
"We are celebrating a double miracle in Izhma!" euphorically wrote one blogger to the popular website LiveJournal.
Meanwhile, the ITAR-TASS news agency said all of the stranded passengers had today safely made it to Moscow on another flight -- except for one couple who preferred to travel by train after their ordeal.