United Kingdom

Terror as tourist plane from hell with 175 on board plunges hundreds of feet

A video has captured the terror of passengers on a tourist plane from hell which plunged hundreds of feet in a storm before being struck by lightning on Saturday.

The Russian Azur Air Boeing 737-800 with 175 on board 'went into free-fall' as it approached Black Sea resort of Sochi in southwestern Russia. 

The plane had left Ekaterinburg earlier that day but was forced to abort its flight plan and make an emergency landing in Krasnodar, some 180 miles north of Sochi, after suffering severe turbulence and the lightning strike. 

'It was a wild horror,' said one passenger, while another said they were saying goodbye to life convinced they would crash.

'Bottles and other small items scattered throughout the cabin,' said the passenger.

'Then lightning hit us.

'There was a loud bang and a bright flash.'

The video shows the turbulence after the flight-from-hell was hit by lightning, but miraculously, the pilots managed to regain control of the plane and make an incredible emergency landing.

Passengers clung to their seats and tray tables for stability as the plane dropped hundreds of feet in turbulent air

Pilots managed to regain control after the plane fell out of the sky, but the plane was then hit with a lightning strike which forced the pilots to carry out an emergency landing

The Russian Azur Air Boeing 737-800 with 175 on board 'went into free-fall' as it approached Black Sea resort of Sochi in southwestern Russia

One tourist, Anna, told E1: 'Everyone was shocked. A woman next to me was crossing herself. 'I remembered all the prayers I knew. When the lightning struck, I turned around. A man sitting near had such fear in his eyes - I will remember for the rest of my life.'

One tourist, Anna, told E1: 'Everyone was shocked. A woman next to me was crossing herself.

'I remembered all the prayers I knew.

'When the lightning struck, I turned around. A man sitting near had such fear in his eyes - I will remember for the rest of my life.'

A woman called Anastasia said: 'We flew through huge grey clouds, and suddenly lightning struck - the flash was clearly visible and we heard a loud bang.

'People got scared, some thought the engine was hit.'

Minutes earlier there was a terrifying plunge as the plane descended hundreds of feet in seconds due to severe turbulence amid the storm.

'Those not strapped in jumped in their places, bottles of water and glasses flew all over the plane,' Anastasia continued.

'There were screams, crying children. Awful feeling.'

She said the plane 'plunged and shook'.

'Then everybody began to say goodbye to life and panic.

'The pilots began to climb abruptly, and for about forty minutes we still flew.'

Following this the aircraft - on a three-and-a-half hour flight from Ekaterinburg - made an emergency landing at Krasnodar after the resort town of Sochi was hit by a brutal storm which forced the closure of the airport. 

Estate agent Yekaterina, a mother of one, said the plane was on an approach to landing when the drama unfolded.

'The plane was shaken very strongly and suddenly it just started to fall,' she said.

'We were about four seconds in free fall.'

She said: 'The pilot reacted and we began to climb abruptly.

'We were still shaking, all grabbing what we could. There were people who screamed, some were praying.'

Estate agent Yekaterina, a mother of one, said the plane was on a second approach to landing when the drama unfolded

'The plane was shaken very strongly and suddenly it just started to fall,' she said. 'We were about four seconds in free fall.' She said: 'The pilot reacted and we began to climb abruptly. We were still shaking, all grabbing what we could. There were people who screamed, some were praying.'

Yekaterina said: 'After the lightning strike, it became very quiet, just total silence. 'People became very quiet. 'I don't even know if some had already resigned themselves to death.'

Yekaterina posted a photo of the view from the plane which looked peaceful just before the storm hit

Yekaterina said: 'After the lightning strike, it became very quiet, just total silence.

'People became very quiet.

'I don't even know if some had already resigned themselves to death.

'Everyone continued to hold on.'

She remembers the pilot saying 'Don't panic, fasten your seat belts' - but no other announcements.

The passengers were not told that they had landed at the wrong airport as the pilots could not continue their journey to Sochi and opted to land 180 miles north west in the city of Krasnodar.

Passengers stood and applauded the flight crew once the plane had come to a stop, while some requested to meet the pilot and take a selfie - which was refused.  

'Thank you for saving our lives,' posted Yekaterina.

There was no immediate comment from the Russian airline.

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