July 25, 2021

Contact was lost with a plane carrying 28 people in eastern Russia

All contact was lost with a plane carrying 28 passengers in eastern Russia, the Far East, Russian news agencies said Tuesday (July 6) citing national security services. The device, an Antonov-26, was on the link between Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Palana, in the Kamchatka Peninsula, when it stopped transmitting its reconnaissance signals, explained the Interfax and RIA Novosti agencies.

Among the 28 people on board are six crew members and one or two children, the agencies said. Two helicopters were mobilized to search for the device which, according to various sources, could have been damaged at sea or crashed to the ground near a coal mine near Palana.

Involved in several crashes

The Antonov An-26 is a light transport aircraft designed in Ukraine during Soviet times. 24 meters long, it can fly at a cruising speed of 440 km / h. The Antonov-26 has been involved in several crashes, the most recent of which occurred on March 13 when a military plane attempting to land in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, crashed, killing four .

In October 2020, an Antonov-26 military transport had already crashed on landing in eastern Ukraine, killing 26, mostly students at a military school, and one survivor. A month earlier, four South Sudanese passengers and three Russian crew members were killed in the crash of an Antonov-26 from a local company near Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

Russia has long suffered from a bad reputation for aviation safety. Poor technical maintenance and lacking rigorous safety rules have left a lasting mark on the Russian aeronautics sector. In May 2019, the forced landing of a Sukhoi Superjet of the national company Aeroflot which had caught fire on the runway of a Moscow airport had killed 41 people. In February 2018, a Saratov Airlines AN-148 crashed shortly after takeoff near Moscow, killing all 71 people on board. An investigation had determined that human error was at the root of the accident.

Air transport is also subject to often difficult flight conditions in remote areas of the Arctic and the Far East.

Le Monde with AFP and Reuters