Passengers of a Russian plane that crashed in Siberia are found alive

18 people on board a Russian plane that disappeared from radars in Siberia after it was forced to make an emergency landing in the taiga were found alive and without serious injuries.

The plane, an Antonov An-28, operated by the Siberian airline "Sila", was flying from the small town of Kidrovy to Tomsk when contact with it was lost around 17:00 local time (10.00 GMT).

Initially, the local Ministry of Emergency Situations announced that the plane had been located, and that it appeared to have made an “emergency landing,” adding that rescuers had seen survivors from the air.

"The 15 passengers and three crew members, and all the people on board (the plane) were found alive," the Russian aviation agency, "Rosaviatsya," announced in a statement, noting that the survivors are currently being transferred to the city of Tomsk, the capital of the region.

According to the statement, the plane was found about 150 kilometers west of Tomsk, where it was forced to land.

No serious injury was recorded among the survivors, and the local authorities indicated in a statement that the doctors "mainly recorded the presence of bruises and scrapes."

"We all believed in a miracle," Tomsk region governor Sergei Gvachkin said in a statement. Thanks to the professionalism of the pilots, I got everyone alive.”

Scenes broadcast by Russian media show the plane badly damaged and overturned in the taiga with soil inside.

The Russian "Interfax" agency reported that six of the plane's passengers refused to be transported by air to Tomsk, after they were evacuated from the landing site by helicopter. "They will be transported to Tomsk by minibus," said local official Alexei Sevostyanov.

Initial sources spoke of 17 people on board, then 19.

The Russian "TASS" news agency quoted relevant sources in the air navigation as saying, "The plane has undergone all technical evaluations."

This disaster comes barely a week after another accident involving an Antonov plane as well. On July 6, an Antonov An-26 crashed while landing on the Kamchatka Peninsula (Far East), killing 28 people on board.

The Antonov planes are mainly manufactured in the Soviet era, and they are still used throughout the former Soviet republics in civil and military aviation, and in recent years, these planes have been subjected to many fatal accidents.

According to the “Interfax” agency, the plane that was involved in the accident on Friday was manufactured in 1989, and was previously operated by the national company “Aeroflot”, then in Kyrgyzstan before it was transferred to the “Sila” company in 2014. This type of short-range aircraft does not exceed the capacity of the aircraft. It accommodates 17 passengers.

Russia, which has long been known for many air accidents, has significantly improved its air safety since the beginning of this century, with the country's major airlines abandoning their old Soviet-era aircraft and buying modern ones.

However, maintenance issues and lax compliance with safety rules still pose major problems, especially in remote areas, where it is preferable to use planes and helicopters to move between isolated areas.

The last serious air accident in Russia dates back to May 2019, when an Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 plane landed after it caught fire on the runway of Moscow Airport, killing 41 people.

In February 2018, an Antonov An-148 plane belonging to Saratov Airlines crashed shortly after take-off near Moscow, killing all 71 people on board.


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