Plane with 28 on board goes missing in Russia's far east
File photo of a Russian An-26 plane in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia. © Russia's Emergencies Ministry via Reuters

None of the 28 people on board a Russian An-26 plane have survived its crash on Tuesday in the country's far east, Interfax and RIA news agencies quoted sources in the rescue service as saying

The plane, en route from regional capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to the village of Palana, lost contact with air traffic control during the flight, according to Russia's emergencies ministry.

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-engined turboprop, was on approach for landing when contact was lost about 10 kilometres away from Palana's airport. The weather in the area was cloudy at the time, Interfax news agency said, quoting the local meteorology centre.

"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," Valentina Glazova, a spokeswoman for the local transport prosecutor's office, told AFP.

Search teams in the remote far eastern Kamchatka peninsula found wreckage of the aircraft, according to the country's aviation agency.

"Rescuers found the wreckage of the aircraft. Given the geographic features of the landscape, rescue operations are difficult," the aviation agency said in an emailed statement, adding that the debris was found along the region's Pacific coast.

Poor aircraft maintenance, lax safety standards

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

But poor aircraft maintenance and lax safety standards still persist, and the country has seen several deadly air accidents in recent years.

The last major air accident took place in May 2019, when 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.

Russia also frequently experiences non-fatal air incidents that result in re-routed flights and emergency landings, usually stemming from technical issues.

In August 2019, a Ural Airlines flight carrying more than 230 people made a miracle landing in a Moscow corn field after a flock of birds were sucked into the engines shortly after take-off.

In February 2020, a Utair Boeing 737 carrying 100 people crash-landed on its belly in northern Russia after its landing system malfunctioned. All of the flight's passengers and its crew survived.

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.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)