28 people killed in aircraft crash in Russia’s Far East
An aircraft carrying 28 people crashed Tuesday, apparently as it came in for a landing in bad weather in Russia’s Far East, and everyone aboard was feared dead. Wreckage from the Antonov An-26 was found on a coastal cliffside and in the sea near the airport in the town of Palana. The aircraft was on approach for a landing in fog and clouds when it missed a scheduled communication and disappeared from radar, officials from the Kamchatka region said. The Antonov “practically crashed into a sea cliff,” which wasn’t supposed to be in its landing trajectory, according to Sergei Gorb, deputy director of the company that owns the aircraft, Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise. Authorities deployed professional divers and rescuers trained for working in mountainous terrain.
All 22 passengers and six crew on board the An-28 aircraft, including two children, died after the aircraft crashed into a rock that towers over the Sea of Okhotsk in northwestern Kamchatka, Russia’s volcano-studded Pacific peninsula, on a foggy, cloudy Tuesday afternoon. The head of the local Government in Palana, Olga Mokhireva, was among the passengers, spokespeople of the Kamchatka Government said.
Most of the bodies have been fished out of the frigid waters.
Rescue workers continue to comb through the area of some 20 square kilometres in search of debris and the aircraft’s flight recorder, the Emergency Ministry added.
Russia’s state aviation agency, Rosaviatsiya, said that parts of the aircraft were found about five kilometres from the airport’s runway. Part of the fuselage was found on the side of a mountain, Russia’s Pacific Fleet told news agencies and another part was floating in the Okhotsk Sea.
There is no official conclusion into what triggered the crash but Russian prosecutors say that possible causes may include a pilot’s error, bad weather or a technical glitch.
The incident indicates a larger problem of small Russian airlines operating decades-old planes that need better equipment, such as instrument landing systems, that ensure the precision of flights, experts told media.
The aircraft was in operation since 1982, Russian state news agency Tass reported. Alexei Khabarov, director of Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise, said that the aircraft was technically sound before taking off from the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
A criminal investigation was opened, as is typical.
In 2012, an An-28 plane belonging to Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise crashed into a mountain while flying the same route as Tuesday’s flight. A total of 14 people were on board and 10 of them were killed. Both pilots, who were among the dead, were found to have alcohol in their blood, Tass reported.
Sources: Associate Press, Al Jazeera