Moscow, Russia: A Russian plane carrying at least 17 people that went missing on Friday in the Siberian region of Tomsk has been found and survivors have been spotted, officials said.
“All people on board are alive,” Russia’s aviation agency confirmed to AFP in a statement, saying that rescuers were now redirecting the “15 passengers and three crew members” to the regional capital after the plane made a hard landing in the area.
The plane, operated by Siberian Light Aviation (SiLA), was flying from the town of Kedrovy to the regional capital Tomsk when communication was lost, Governor Sergei Zhvachkin’s office said in a statement.
It said 17 people were on board including three crew members and four children, though the emergencies ministry later said there were 19 people on board.
The ministry announced later that the plane had been found, apparently after making a “hard landing”, and that survivors had been seen.
Russian news agencies quoted officials saying it appeared that all the passengers and crew had survived.
News agency TASS reported that the An-28 plane had passed all safety checks but cited a SiLA executive as saying that the flight had been delayed by 10 hours because of bad weather.
The latest incident follows a July 6 crash of an An-26 plane in Russia’s far eastern Kamchatka peninsula, killing all 28 people on board.
Antonov planes were manufactured during the Soviet era and are still used throughout the former USSR for civilian and military transport. They have been involved in a number of accidents in recent years.
A local transport source told the Interfax news agency that the plane was built in 1989 and used by Russian airline Aeroflot and in ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan before going into service with SiLA in 2014.
The An-28 is a twin-engine light turboprop plane with a usual capacity of 17 passengers.
Russia, once notorious for plane accidents, has improved its air traffic safety record in recent years.
But poor aircraft maintenance and lax safety standards persist.
In May 2019 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.
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.