Plane with 28 on board goes missing over Russia after passenger flight disappears from radar

A PLANE with 28 people on board has gone missing from radars in Russia's Far East region, local officials have confirmed.

The An-26 plane with 22 passengers and six crew had been flying from the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to the village of Palana.

But the plane, which belonged to a company called Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise, missed a scheduled communication and disappeared from the radars, local emergency officials said.

The An-26 was coming in for a landing when contact was six miles away from Palana's airport. 

Valentina Glazova, a spokeswoman for the local transport prosecutor's office, told AFP new agency: "Search and rescue efforts are underway.

"All that is known at this time, what has been possible to establish, is that communication with the plane was interrupted and it did not land."

Russian news agencies quoted local officials as saying there were 28 people on board, including six crew, and that there were one or two children among the passengers.

There were conflicting reports of what may have happened, with one source telling news agency TASS the plane could have crashed into the sea and another telling Interfax it may have gone down near a coal mine close to Palana.

A search had been launched involving at least two helicopters and rescue workers were on standby, the reports said.

All that is known at this time, what has been possible to establish, is that communication with the plane was interrupted and it did not land

Russia, once notorious for plane accidents, has improved its air traffic safety record in recent years.

But poor aircraft maintenance and lax safety standards still persist, and the country has seen several deadly air accidents in recent years.

The An-26 that vanished today is a twin-engined turboprop civilian and military transport aircraft, designed and produced in the Soviet Union from 1969 to 1986.

In August, a South West Aviation An-26 turboprop aircraft crashed while taking off from Juba Airport in Juba, South Sudan.

A month later an An-26 hit the ground while coming into land near the town of Chuguyev in the east of Ukraine, killing 22 of the 28 people on board.

The last major air accident in Russia took place in May 2019, when a Sukhoi Superjet belonging to the flag carrier airline Aeroflot crash-landed and caught fire on the runway of a Moscow airport, killing 41 people.

In February 2018, a Saratov Airlines An-148 aircraft crashed near Moscow shortly after take-off, killing all 71 people on board.

An investigation later concluded that the accident was caused by human error.

Russia also frequently experiences non-fatal air incidents that result in re-routed flights and emergency landings, usually stemming from technical issues.

In August 2019, a Ural Airlines flight carrying more than 230 people made a miracle landing in a Moscow corn field after a flock of birds were sucked into the engines shortly after take-off.

In February 2020, a Utair Boeing 737 carrying 100 people crash-landed on its belly in northern Russia after its landing system malfunctioned. All of the flight's passengers and its crew survived.

Flying in Russia can also be dangerous in the vast country's isolated regions with difficult weather conditions such as the Arctic and the Far East.

More to follow…

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