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Passengers have told how they were "screaming in fear" on a plane as it was hit by a terrifying dust storm shortly before landing.
The Russian flight was engulfed in the apocalyptic thick, dark sandstorm cloud as it approached the Caspian Sea city of Astrakhan.
"We began to shake, and then it started dropping," said Polina Khamzyaeva, 40, who described the terror from severe turbulence during the Pobeda Airlines Boeing 738 service from St Petersburg.
"People on board were simply screaming in fear,” she said.
"The plane lost altitude, then like a rollercoaster, we went up. Then it dropped sharply again.
"At first, all the passengers were quiet from shock, I grabbed the armrest.
"I was waiting for us to touch the runway.
"We kept dropping again and again, that's when people started screaming.”
Polina said the plane stabilised then fell again blanketed by the thick sand and dust storm.
"And after the last drop, we dropped deep down, the belts really kept us from being hurled upwards.
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"We saw gleams of blue sky."
She added: "After the longest drop, we got out of the turbulence. Everyone in the cabin exhaled."
Two minutes later the pilot landed the plane smoothly, she said, thanking the crew.
Footage from the plane and also from the ground shows the unexpected giant sandstorm that engulfed the city.
Passengers said it was "like a solid curtain of sand" at the end of the three-hour flight.
"People on board tried not to panic and support each other, but from time to time screams of frightened passengers were heard," said one report.
Another passenger Alexander Smirnov, 38, said: "It was quite awful.
"I felt uncomfortable, anxious. I was worried, scared, but I didn't panic.
"It all lasted around five minutes. Some passengers, some women, were screaming ‘Aaahhh’.”
The plane with 189 seats landed safely and there were no reports of injuries.
- In the News
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