Russia: Local authorities reported on Tuesday that contact with a passenger aircraft carrying more than two dozen passengers on Russia’s Far Eastern province of Kamchatka had been lost.
The An-26 was travelling from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Kamchatka’s capital, to Palana, when it vanished and failed to land as scheduled, according to Valentina Glazova, a spokesperson for the local transport prosecutor’s office.
She said that there were 29 individuals on board, including 23 passengers and six staff members.
“Search and rescue efforts are under way,” 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 claimed the aircraft was operated by a small aviation firm on Kamchatka, a large peninsula on the Pacific Ocean in Russia’s far east.
Local authorities told Russian news media that there were 28 persons on board, including six staff members, and that one or two children were among the passengers.
There were contradictory accounts as to what occurred, with one source telling TASS that the aircraft may have fallen 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 started, and rescue personnel were on standby.
Lack of safety continues
Russia, which was previously known for aircraft crashes, has recently improved its air traffic safety record.
However, poor aircraft maintenance and low safety regulations remain, and the nation has recently had numerous fatal aviation accidents.
The most recent significant aviation 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 aircraft crashed near Moscow in February 2018, killing all 71 persons on board soon after takeoff. The disaster was subsequently determined to be the result of human error, according to an inquiry.
Non-fatal aviation accidents that result in rerouted flights and emergency landings are also common in Russia, typically due to technical problems.
After a flock of birds got pulled into the engines soon after take-off, a Ural Airlines aircraft carrying more than 230 passengers made a miraculous landing in a Moscow corn field in August 2019.
A Utair Boeing 737 carrying 100 passengers crashed into the ground on its belly in northern Russia in February 2020 when the landing mechanism failed. The flight’s passengers and crew all made it out alive.
Flying in Russia may also be hazardous in remote areas with harsh weather, such as the Arctic and the Far East.