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Drone LOST in Latvian airspace: Main airport shut down as army rushes to search

Drone LOST in Latvian airspace: Main airport shut down as army rushes to search
The Baltic nation of Latvia has deployed army aircraft to search for a drone that was lost during a test flight. The incident has forced at least one airliner to be quickly rerouted from the country’s main airport.

The airspace over Riga International Airport has been closed due to a lost drone. The airport’s spokesperson, Laura Karnite, told local media that the measure has already caused disruption of air traffic, as a Riga-bound flight from the Chinese city of Urumqi was forced to change course and land in Tallinn, Estonia, which borders Latvia.

Latvian drone-maker UAV Factory lost all communication with one of its drones on Saturday when it was performing a controlled test flight, flying 200m (656ft) above the ground. The whereabouts of the UAV have since been unknown, and the authorities scrambled aircraft to track it down.

The Latvian Army has deployed an An-2 biplane and a Mi-17 helicopter to search for the drone. The Civil Aviation Agency also said that two aircraft are participating in the operation, while urging citizens to provide information about the runaway UAV if they see it.

The drone can travel at a speed of about 70kph (44mph), and had enough fuel for 90 hours of flight when it was lost. It is 3.5m wide, 5.5m long, and weighs about 26kg (57.3lb).

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