Ural Airlines flight 178 from Moscow to Simferopol in Crimea suffered “significant interruptions” in the jet’s engines, according to Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency. The pilots were forced to land the plane in a field adjacent to Zhukovsky International Airport.
“On takeoff, after separation from the runway, the plane crashed into a flock of gulls, whose entry into the engines led to significant interruptions,” a representative of the FATA told Interfax in a statement on Thursday.
The passengers were evacuated immediately upon landing, and there was no fire aboard the Airbus A321.
A total of 23 people, including five children, were taken to the hospital after the landing, according to The Associated Press. One remained there as of early Thursday, but the rest had been treated and released.
“The landing was made with the landing gear removed, and the crew turned off the engines before landing,” according to FATA’s statement, which was translated from Russian. “The cabin crew coordinated and organized the evacuation of passengers on emergency inflatable ramps.”
A woman who asked not to be identified told Eurovision News: “There was a stony silence on board.”
“Everyone was waiting for their fate,” she added. “Then the plane hardly hit the ground. I held my baby in hands. I was afraid that she would be shaken badly because of her light weight.”
Russia said it’s formed a special commission to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.