All 28 people on board a decades-old passenger plane that crashed in Russia’s far east, including at least one child, are feared dead, according to local officials and media.
The plane was en route from regional capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Palana, a town in northwestern Kamchatka, when it lost contact with air traffic control shortly before 3 pm local time (03:00 GMT) on Tuesday, Russia’s emergencies ministry said.
There were 22 passengers and six crew onboard the Antonov An-26 twin-engined turboprop, which has been in operation since 1982.
Most were residents of Palana, a town that is home to about 2,900 people and near the Sea of Okhotsk.
Local officials said the plane’s debris had been found both in the sea and on land.
The cause of the crash is now “being investigated”, the Kamchatka transportation prosecutor’s office told Al Jazeera.
There were initial reports that poor visibility may have been a contributing factor.
An-26 plans have for decades been the most reliable mode of transportation in the remote and sparsely populated region, where “bears outnumber people”, according to a local saying.
Some 320,000 people live on the New Zealand-sized peninsula and an adjacent archipelago. After the Soviet collapse, the region faced a dramatic depopulation despite hefty natural resources, including oil and gas.
An aviation security analyst urged caution over any conclusions made before experts reach the crash site and examine the debris.
“It’s too early to say what happened,” Vitali Shelkovnikov told Al Jazeera.
He said, however, that the An-26 plane was a reliable aircraft that can glide down safely, even if one of its turbines is off.
“It’s a good machine. [The] Antonov [aircraft designer bureau] never made bad machines,” said Shelkovnikov, who heads the Moscow-based Flight Safety consulting agency.
Russian plane crashes after went down while preparing to land in poor visibility all 28 onboard feared deadHere