Wreckage from a plane carrying 28 people that went missing has been found a few miles from the airport in Russia’s Far East where it was supposed to land, officials said, and everyone aboard is feared dead.
The Antonov An-26 plane was on approach for a landing in bad weather when it missed a scheduled communication and disappeared from radar as it neared the airport in the town of Palana, officials in the Kamchatka region said.
Russia’s state aviation agency, Rosaviatsiya, said parts of the plane were found about three miles from the airport’s runway, near the coastline.
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.
Sergei Gorb, deputy director of Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise, said the plane “practically crashed into a sea cliff” which was not supposed to be in its landing trajectory.
The aircraft has been in operation since 1982, Russian state news agency Tass reported.
The director of Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise, Alexei Khabarov, told the Interfax news agency that the plane was technically sound before taking off from the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
According to Russian media reports, none of the six crew members or 22 passengers on board survived. The head of the local government in Palana, Olga Mokhireva, was among them, the Kamchatka government said.
No bodies have been found yet and there was no official confirmation of the reports.
A criminal investigation has been opened, as is routine.
A search-and-rescue mission was under way in the mountainous area, but the work was suspended after night fell, said the governor of Kamchatka, Vladimir Solodov.
“The site itself is difficult to access, a helicopter can’t land there,” he said in video posted on the regional government’s website. “Because of adverse weather conditions, high waves, the rescue operation had to be temporarily suspended. It will resume tomorrow morning.”
Authorities plan to deploy professional divers and rescuers trained for working in mountainous terrain.
Mr Solodov added that government officials including transport minister Vitaly Savelyev will head to Palana on Wednesday.
In 2012, an Antonov 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.