Aug. 15 (UPI) -- A fully loaded Russian passenger airliner was forced to land in a cornfield near Moscow Thursday after striking a flock of birds, officials said.
The Ural Airlines Airbus A-321 carrying 234 people descended into the cornfield without landing gear after the bird strike. A number of people were hurt in the crash landing in Ramensk, located about 25 miles southeast of the Russian capital.
The plane had just taken off from Moscow and was headed for Crimea when several birds were sucked into the plane's two engines, which caught fire. The jetliner crash landed about a half-mile from Moscow's Zhukovsky International Airport. One passenger recorded the landing on their cellphone.
"Today is a really good day," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "Let's congratulate each other that 234 passengers and seven crew members are alive. Let us offer our wishes for a speedy recovery to those who were injured and congratulate the heroic pilots for saving people's lives and landing the plane."
State-run TASS news agency reported more than 50 people sought medical treatment and six were hospitalized.
The scale of the bird strike was "quite rare," an airline spokesman said.
"It happens maybe once in 50 years."
Passenger Fyodor Galin said the plane shook violently just seconds after takeoff.
"Then the lights started flashing and there was a burning smell," Galin said. "The plane landed and we all ran out."
Russia's Investigative Committee and the Interstate Aviation Committee will investigate the accident.