Russian plane with 28 on board crashes into sea

A plane with 28 people on board crashed into the sea off Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula on Tuesday as it prepared to land, the RIA news agency reported Tuesday.

The plane, which was en route from the regional capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to the village of Palana, lost contact with air traffic control during the flight, Russia’s Emergency Ministry said.

There were 22 passengers and six crew on board, the ministry said. Village Mayor Olga Mokhireva was among the passengers, along with four local government officials, local authorities said.

The plane, an Antonov An-26 twin-engine turboprop, was about to land when contact was lost about 10 kilometers from Palana airport. The weather in the area at the time was cloudy, Interfax news agency said, citing the local meteorological center.

“All that is known at this time, which may have been established, is that communication with the plane was interrupted and did not land,” Valentina Glazova, a spokeswoman for the local prosecutor’s office for transport, told AFP.

An investigation has been launched and a search is underway. Several ships, two helicopters and a plane have been deployed to inspect the missing plane’s route, local officials said.

Poor aircraft maintenance, lax safety standards

Russia, once notorious for plane crashes, has improved its aviation and air safety record in recent years.

But poor aircraft maintenance and lax safety standards still exist, and the country has experienced several fatal aircraft accidents in recent years.

The last major plane crash occurred in May 2019, when a Sukhoi Superjet of the national airline Aeroflot made an emergency landing and caught fire on the runway of an airport in Moscow, killing 41 people.

In February 2018, a Saratov Airlines An-148 plane crashed near Moscow shortly after takeoff, killing all 71 people on board. An investigation later concluded that the accident was caused by human error.

Russia also frequently faces non-fatal air incidents resulting in diverted flights and emergency landings, usually due to technical problems.

In August 2019, a Ural Airlines flight carrying more than 230 people made a miracle landing in a Moscow cornfield after a flock of birds was sucked into its engines shortly after takeoff.

In February 2020, a Utair Boeing 737 with 100 people on board made an emergency landing on its stomach in northern Russia after its landing system malfunctioned. All of the flight’s passengers and crew survived.

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

( Jowharwith AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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