Moscow, Russia: Local officials reported Tuesday that contact with a passenger plane carrying more than two dozen people in Russia’s Far Eastern province of Kamchatka had been lost.
The An-26 was traveling from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Kamchatka’s capital, to Palana, when it vanished and failed to land as planned, according to Valentina Glazova, a spokesperson for the local transport prosecutor’s office.
She stated that there were 29 persons on board, including 23 passengers and six crew members.
“Search and rescue efforts are underway,” she 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.”
She stated the jet was operated by a small aviation company on Kamchatka, a huge peninsula on the Pacific Ocean in Russia’s far east.
Local officials told Russian news outlets that there were 28 persons on board, including six staff members, and that one or two children were among the passengers.
There were different accounts as to what happened, with one source telling TASS that the plane may have crashed into the sea and another telling Interfax that the plane may have crashed near a coal mine in Palana.
According to reports, a search including at least two helicopters had been initiated, and rescue workers were on standby.
The lack of safety continues
Russia, which was historically known for aviation crashes, has recently improved its air traffic safety record.
However, poor aircraft maintenance and inadequate safety regulations persist, and the country has recently experienced multiple fatal air accidents.
The most recent big air disaster occurred in May 2019, when a Sukhoi Superjet belonging to Russian flag carrier Aeroflot crashed and caught fire on a Moscow airport runway, killing 41 people.
A Saratov Airlines An-148 plane crashed near Moscow in February 2018, killing all 71 people on board shortly after takeoff. The accident was ultimately determined to be the result of human error, according to an investigation.
Non-fatal air incidents that result in rerouted flights and emergency landings are also common in Russia, mainly due to technical faults.
After a flock of birds got pulled into the engines shortly after take-off, a Ural Airlines flight carrying more than 230 people made a miraculous landing in a Moscow cornfield in August 2019.
A Utair Boeing 737 carrying 100 people crashed into the ground on its belly in northern Russia in February 2020 after the landing mechanism failed. The flight’s passengers and crew all made it out alive.
Flying in Russia can also be perilous in remote areas with harsh weather, such as the Arctic and the Far East.