All Passengers Dead As Missing Plane Is Found Crashed On A Mountain

 This is the sight that greeted rescuers searching for a passenger plane that disappeared in eastern Russia today - a scorched clifftop strewn with wreckage of the aircraft.   

The Antonov An-26 plane, carrying 22 passengers and six crew, had been on its descent into the village of Palana around 3pm Tuesday when it suddenly lost radio contact with ground crews.

Rescue teams were scrambled before discovering this scene on cliffs around 10 miles south of the airport several hours later. 

It is thought the plane, which was operated by Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise, struck the top of the cliff amid low-lying cloud and broke apart. There were no survivors.

Part of the plane's stabiliser was found on top of the cliff, Russian media reported, while sections of its tail were found on rocks that drop down into the Sea of Okhotsk.

Other parts of the wreckage were found floating in the ocean including the plane's radio distress beacon, which is what naval crews tracked to find the crash site. 

Several senior officials from Palana village are said to have been on board the flight, including mayor Olga Mokhireva, 42, head of the mobilization department Alexander Andreikin, and his wife Olga Andreikina, who heads the financial department. 

The pilot was named as Dmitry Nikiforov, and the co-pilot Alexander Anisimov, 27. 

An investigation into the crash is underway, as inspectors say the 39-year-old plane had a certificate of airworthiness and passed pre-flight checks when it took off from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky airport two hours before the crash.

The pilots had not reported any faults during the flight. 

Aleksey Khrabrov, the head of Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise, confirmed the wreckage had been found but would not give more details. 

A near-identical crash happened on the same section of cliffs back in 2012, when an An-28 plane carrying 14 people from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Palana hit treetops on the cliffs in poor visibility and crashed.

Ten people, including both pilots, were killed in the wreck which happened around 10 miles south of Palana.

It was later discovered that both pilots had alcohol in their blood, they had approached the airfield too low and along the wrong flight path, and had given false position readings to ground control crews.  

'The plane did not arrive at the appointed time.

'According to updated data, there were 28 people on board... six crew members and 22 passengers, including one child born in 2014.' 

Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin ordered a special commission to find out what had happened.

A criminal case was also launched into its fate, a normal measure when a plane goes missing or crashes in Russia.

Russia, once notorious for plane accidents, has improved its air traffic safety record in recent years.

But poor aircraft maintenance and lax safety standards still persist, and the country has seen several deadly air accidents in recent years.

The last major air accident took place in May 2019, when a Sukhoi Superjet belonging to the flag carrier airline Aeroflot crash-landed and caught fire on the runway of a Moscow airport, killing 41 people.

In February 2018, a Saratov Airlines An-148 aircraft crashed near Moscow shortly after take-off, killing all 71 people on board. An investigation later concluded that the accident was caused by human error.

Flying in Russia can also be dangerous in the vast country's isolated regions with difficult weather conditions such as the Arctic and the Far East.

The vanished plane was produced in 1982 and was owned by Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise, said local transport officials.

It has a valid certificate of airworthiness, they said.

The Soviet-era workhorse planes are widely used in remote areas of Russia.

In 2012, an An-28 plane crashed near Palana, killing ten.

The pilots were eventually found guilty, as they had alcohol in their blood.

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