Zero visibility impedes search for An-12 plane in Kolyma

MAGADAN, August 10 (Itar-Tass) — The search operation for the missing Antonov An-12 plane is impeded by almost zero visibility. The Mi-8 helicopter that on Wednesday morning flew from the Omsukchan settlement has found nothing and returned to the base, head of the Omsukchan district Oleg Yegorkin told Itar-Tass by telephone.

Yegorkingmade a supposition that the plane could have made an emergency landing about 50 kilometres from the Julietta gold mine that is located in the Omsukchan district. The mine area is mountainous, but there are clivages between the hills.

The search and rescue operation on Wednesday involves two helicopters Mi-8, the Be-200 plane and other equipment – a total of 21 vehicles. Over a hundred people are making their way on surface transport to the area where the plane could be. But the rains in the Omsukchan district have resulted in a sharp water level rise in the rivers, which creates additional obstacles to the rescuers conducting a ground search operation.

The Antonov An-12 of the Khabarovsk-based Avis-Amur airline on August 9 was flying from Komsomolsk-on-Amur to the Chukchi village of Keperveyem. After refuelling and taking off in Magadan, the commander of the aircraft at 16:39, local time (07:39 MSK) reported to air traffic controllers that the plane had a fuel leak and fire in the engine in the area of the Julietta gold mine in the Omsukchan district of the Magadan region. After some time, communication with the crew was lost, and the aircraft disappeared from radar screens.

Shortly after the supposed crash, an emergency beacon of the An-12 transmitted a signal that was received by satellites, but then the signal disappeared. The search and rescue operation was complicated by low clouds and rain. Rescuers failed to find the liner before dark. The gold mine is located approximately 300 kilometres from the Omsukchan village.

The Interstate Aviation Committee is clarifying the existing information on the incident. After reliable data are obtained a decision to establish a commission for the investigation of the incident will be made.

The Far East Transport Investigation Department of the RF Investigative Committee (SK) opened a criminal case under Article 263 part 3 of the RF Criminal Code – “violation of safety rules of air transport.”

The missing An-12 plane (board number RA-11125) was made nearly half a century ago at the Chkalov Tashkent Aviation Production Association (GAO TAPOiCH). The liner made its first flight in 1963. The Avis-Amur airline leased the aircraft. The company director Sergei Astashkin told Itar-Tass that there was only one An-12 cargo plane in the Avis-Amur fleet. He declined to make comments in connection with the disappearance of the aircraft.

The Commission of the Federal Service for Transport Supervision (Rostransnadzor) has launched a probe into the compliance with the requirements of legislation during preparations for the flight, including those relating to the preparation of both the plane and crew.

The Antonov An-12 (NATO reporting name: Cub) is a four-engine turboprop transport aircraft designed in the Soviet Union. It is the military version of the Antonov An-10. The first prototype flew in December 1957. Over 900 had been built, in both military and civilian versions, before production finally ended in 1973. The An-12BP entered Soviet military service in 1959. In terms of configuration, size and capability, the aircraft is similar to the United States-built Lockheed C-130 Hercules. Military Soviet and former-Soviet examples have a defensive tail gun turret.

Magadan Oblast is a federal subject of Russia (an oblast) in the Far Eastern Federal District. Its administrative centre is the city of Magadan. The oblast is bordered in the north by Chukotka Autonomous Area, in the east by Kamchatka Territory (Krai), in the south by Khabarovsk Territory and in the west by the Sakha Republic. Magadan Oblast is considered one of the world’s richest mining areas. Gold is the region’s main resource, although silver and tin deposits are also being developed. There are nearly 2,000 placer gold deposits, 100 gold ore deposits, and 48 silver ore deposits in the territory.


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