A search team has found the bodies of nine people after a passenger plane carrying 28 people crashed in Russia’s remote far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula.
The Antonov An-26 twin-engined turboprop plane, in operation since 1982, disappeared while flying from Kamchatka’s main city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to the coastal town of Palana on Tuesday and reportedly went down as it came in for a landing in bad weather.
All on board are presumed dead.
Hours after the aircraft went missing, search teams found the wreckage on a coastal cliffside near Palana and in the Sea of Okhotsk.
“At present, nine bodies have been found,” the regional branch of the emergencies ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that one body had been identified.
Those on board included six crew and 22 passengers, including two children.
The head of the local government in Palana, Olga Mokhireva, was among the passengers, the Kamchatka government said.
Three days of mourning
More than 50 people combed the coast of the Okhotsk Sea as the search and rescue operation continued, but fog, strong winds and waves were complicating their efforts.
Russia’s emergencies ministry said it planned to deploy divers and an Mi-8 helicopter.
Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev was also expected to head to Palana on Wednesday.
Authorities in Kamchatka declared three days of mourning in the aftermath of the crash.
Officials said the families of the victims will receive payments of more than 3.5 million rubles (about $47,200) that will include compensation from the airline, insurance payment and a subsidy from the regional government.
Officials have said the plane, which belonged to a company called Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise, was in a good condition and passed safety checks.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes and incidents, said it was looking at three potential causes of the accident: poor weather conditions, technical malfunctions, or pilot error.
Russian aviation safety standards have improved in recent years but deadly accidents, especially involving ageing planes in far-flung regions, are not uncommon.
An-26 planes, which were manufactured from 1969 until 1986 during the Soviet era and are still used in some countries for civilian and military transport, have been involved in several recent accidents.
In 2012, an Antonov An-28 plane 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. Investigators said both pilots were drunk at the time of the crash.