A passenger jet has made an emergency landing in a field in Moscow after colliding with a flock of birds, injuring at least 23 people, Russian officials said.

The Ural Airlines A321, carrying 226 passengers and a crew of seven, hit the gulls as it took off from the capital’s Zhukovsky international airport en route for Simferopol in Crimea.

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The birds got into both of the plane’s engines and caused a malfunction, the airline said.

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The pilot then made an emergency landing in a cornfield about half a mile from the airport.

Emergency landing
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The plane made an emergency landing in a field near Moscow’s Zhukovsky international airport

Elena Mikheyeva, a spokeswoman for Russia’s civil aviation authority, said the engines were turned off when it made the emergency landing and also had its landing gear up.

State media has called the landing the “miracle over Ramensk” – in reference to the district where the plane came down.

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There have also been comparisons with US Airways Flight 1549 which landed on the Hudson River in 2009 after striking a flock of geese.

Twenty-three people, including five children, were taken to hospital after the Moscow incident, Russian health authorities said.

Those injured were “considered to be in serious or fair condition”, it said.

Ural Airlines praised the crew for their professionalism over the evacuation.

Emergency landing
Image:
State media has called the landing the ‘miracle over Ramensk’ – in reference to the district where the aircraft came down

The company said the captain is a highly experienced pilot who had flown for over 3,000 hours.

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It added the plane was significantly damaged and would not fly again.

An official investigation is under way.

Footage from the scene showed the flight commander directing passengers to walk away from the jet across the cornfield.

Collisions between birds and planes are common in aviation, and while a single bird is rarely dangerous, multiple bird strikes, or hitting large birds such as Canada Geese, can and has caused serious accidents.

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