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3 Nov, 2021 12:28

Belarusian cargo plane crashes & catches fire in Siberia, as Russian officials confirm all on board dead

Belarusian cargo plane crashes & catches fire in Siberia, as Russian officials confirm all on board dead

Russian emergency services have scrambled to battle a blaze after an An-12 cargo plane crashed near the Siberian city of Irkutsk, with Moscow officials confirming that a total of seven people were on board when it lost contact.

“At 2:50pm Moscow time, the An-12 aircraft, flying between Yakutsk and Irkutsk, disappeared from the radar,” a source told RIA Novosti. “Initially, two people have been killed and the fate of a further five people is still unknown.” The plane belongs to Belarusian airline ‘Grodno’ and was operating a cargo flight.

“According to preliminary reports, the crash site has been found in the area of the village of Pivovarikha [in the region around Irkutsk], not far from the airfield. The plane went into a second circle during landing and then disappeared from the radar,” a source told the agency.

The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations has since said that “fire and rescue units have arrived at the scene. The plane is on fire,” and emergency services had managed to extinguish the blaze. Igor Kobzev, the governor of Irkutsk Oblast, later confirmed that all those aboard had died, and no survivors had been found among the wreckage.

A video posted by officials from the scene shows the crash site engulfed in smoke. More than 100 people and 50 vehicles were said to be on the site and aiding in the recovery operation.

Belarus’ Ministry of Transport has since said that the aircraft was operated by “an experienced crew” of three of the country’s citizens, along with two Russians and two Ukrainians. The commander, officials say, had more than 12,000 flight hours at the helm of an An-12, and no cargo was on board at the time of the crash.

The An-12 is a Soviet-era turboprop plane produced between 1957 and 1973, primarily for the armed forces of the USSR. It has since been operated by a number of civilian airlines in the former Soviet Union, primarily for freight flights. In 2019, an An-12 crashed close to Lviv airport in Western Ukraine, killing five and injuring a further three people.

The incident marks the latest in a series of air disasters in Siberia and the Russian Far East. In July, emergency workers investigating the disappearance of an Antonov An-26 turboprop plane announced that they had recovered the bodies of 22 passengers and six crew after it crashed into a cliff on the Kamchatka peninsula.

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