Plane Crash Survivor Says God Will ‘Judge’ Passengers Who Stopped to Grab Bags

By Zachary Stieber

A survivor of the Russian plane crash criticized people who delayed others from getting off the plane.

Talking about people who grabbed their belongings on their way out, Mikhail Savchenko said, “God is their judge.”

“But I really want to ask them not to persecute them, I am sure that it is very hard for them now. I do not think that at least one person in this burning hell coolly and deliberately dragged suitcases,” he said in a translated post on Facebook. “I do not know how the psyche works in such situations, [that is] a question for the experts.”

Savchenko posted video footage from the crash site that showed passengers fleeing the blaze.

“P.S. No, I didn’t drag my suitcases. No, I didn’t fly business. No, the moment I was filming, there were no people around me that I could help. But believe me, it’s not much easier,” he said.

He also thanked the crew of the Aeroflot plane, saying “If it weren’t for them, there would be many more victims.”

The plane crashed on May 5 in Moscow, killing 41 people.

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This image taken from video provided by Instagram user @artempetrovich, shows the SSJ-100 aircraft of Aeroflot Airlines on fire during an emergency landing in Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow, Russia, on May 5, 2019. (@artempetrovich via AP)
A Sukhoi passenger plane is engulfed in flames after it made an emergency landing due to an onboard fire at Sheremetyevo International Airport, outside Moscow, Russia, on May 5, 2019. (Mikhail Norenko via Reuters)

Savchenko’s post came after an overweight passenger reportedly blocked the exit when he took time out of his escape to grab his bag.

Interfax news agency also cited an unnamed “informed source” as saying the evacuation of the plane had been delayed by some passengers insisting on getting their hand luggage first.

Television footage showed the Sukhoi Superjet 100 crash bouncing along the tarmac at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport before the rear part of the plane suddenly burst into flames.

Many passengers on board SU 1492 then escaped via the plane’s emergency slides that inflated after the hard landing.

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The Sukhoi SSJ100 aircraft of Aeroflot airlines is covered in fire-retardant foam after an emergency landing in Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, Russia, on May 5, 2019. (Moscow News Agency photo via AP)
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The wreckage of Sukhoi SSJ100 aircraft of Aeroflot Airlines is seen in Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow, Russia, on May 6, 2019. (The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation via AP)

The plane, which had been flying from Moscow to the northern Russian city of Murmansk, had been carrying 73 passengers and five crew members, Russia’s aviation watchdog said.

Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said in a statement that only 37 out of 78 people on board had survived, meaning 41 people had died.

Investigators on Monday were starting to try to piece together why the Aeroflot jet was forced to make an emergency landing and why that landing went so wrong. Various versions are being looked into, including technical failure, human error, and bad weather conditions.

President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev expressed their condolences and ordered investigators to establish what had happened.

Reuters contributed to this report.