President Duda sends condolence message to his Russian counterpart

The Aeroflot Sukhoi SSJ100, also called the Superjet, returned to Sheremetyevo a half hour after the take off. During a "hard landing", the jet burst into flames. /PAP/EPA

President Andrzej Duda has sent a letter of condolence to Russian President Vladimir Putin after the death of 41 people in a fiery Russian plane crash at a Moscow airport.

"I received with great sadness the news of more than 40 people who lost their lives as a result of a plane fire during an emergency landing at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. I offer my condolences to all the affected and the families of the victims," the Polish president wrote in the message, handed over to PAP by the head of the President's Office Krzysztof Szczerski.

Andrzej Duda also expressed "appreciation for the dedication of officers of emergency services who, regardless of the threat to their own lives, carried out a rescue operation".

The Aeroflot Sukhoi SSJ100, also called the Superjet, flying on Sunday from Moscow to the northern Russian city of Murmansk returned to Sheremetyevo a half hour after the take off when the crew reported an unspecified "malfunction." During a "hard landing", the jet burst into flames. According to some media, the aircraft landed with full fuel tanks. Other media reported that the plane was struck by lightning and that the crew lost contact with air traffic controllers.

The plane was carrying 73 passengers and five crew members. Forty-one people reportedly died, including two children and one crew member. Nine people remain in hospitals.