Military plane with six on board disappears in Russia

Publish: 8:32 PM, September 22, 2021 | Update: 8:32:PM, September 22, 2021

MOSCOW,  – A Russian An-26 military transport aircraft with six people on board disappeared Wednesday near the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk, the emergencies ministry said. The ministry said that at 6:45 pm local time (0845 GMT) it learned that “an An-26 aircraft had disappeared from radar 38 kilometres (23 miles) from Khabarovsk airport”.

“According to preliminary data, there are six people on board,” the ministry added on its Telegram channel. The ministry said that a helicopter had been dispatched to search for the aircraft. The search, however, was complicated by the onset of darkness in Khabarovsk and “unfavourable weather conditions”, the ministry said. Once notorious for plane accidents, Russia has improved its air traffic safety record in recent years.

The country’s major airlines have shifted from ageing Soviet aircraft to more modern planes. But poor aircraft maintenance and lax safety standards still persist, and the country has seen several deadly air accidents in recent years. In July, an An-26 aircraft flying over the Far Eastern Kamchatka peninsula with 28 people on board disappeared and crashed.

All 28 people on board — 22 passengers, including two minors, and six crew — died. A month later, a Mi-8 helicopter carrying 16 tourists and crew on a sightseeing trip in Kamchatka crashed into a lake, killing eight people. Antonov planes were manufactured during the Soviet era and are still used throughout the former USSR for civilian and military transport. They have been involved in a number of accidents in recent years.