MAGADAN, August 10 (Itar-Tass) — The search area for the missing An-12 airplane in Russia’s Far Eastern Magadan Region has been expanded, a spokeswoman for the local emergencies administration Olga Kravchuk told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
“Aircraft involved in the search operation have expanded the search area and make several flights over each of its sections,” she said.
According to the spokeswoman, the area from which the plane’s radio beacon signal came was examined several times, no traces of the plane were spotted.
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. According to the latest reports, there were 11 people onboard the plane, including six crew members, two technicians from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, an instructor from Sakhalin, and two residents of the Chukotka autonomous area who were accompanying a commercial cargo. After refueling and taking off in Magadan, the commander of the aircraft at 16:39, local time (07:39 a.m. Moscow time) reported to air traffic controllers that the plane had a fuel leak and a fire in the engine in the area of the Juliet 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 near the village of Omsukchan 560 km from Magadan 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 Interstate Aviation Committee is verifying accident-related information and will take a decision whether to set up a special commission after the check is over.
Criminal proceedings have been initiated on charges of violations of air traffic safety rules.
The missing An-12 (hull No. RA-11125) was manufactured some 50 years ago by the Tashkent-based Chkalov aviation enterprise. It made its maiden flight in 1963. The Avia-Amur airline leased the ill-fated plane. The airline’s director Sergei Astashkin told Itar-Tass the company has only one such plane and refrained from further comments.
The Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsia) has launched a probe into the plane’s readiness for the flight and the crew’s skills.