Russian authorities have dispatched ships to search for the wreckage of a small aircraft carrying 28 people (22 passengers including two children, along with 6 crew) that reportedly crashed into the sea near the remote Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's far east.
The small Soviet-era plane, an Antonov An-26 turboprop aircraft, belonging to local carrier Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise, departed from the regional capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and was headed to the town of Palana, over 435 miles (about 700 kilometers). The plane was nearing its destination - it was only about 10 minutes, or six miles, away from the small airport in Palana - when authorities lost radio contact.
Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency is investigating whether the accident was caused by bad weather - the pilot was said to be grappling with intense fog and extremely low visibility - or some other malfunction. According to RT, a fleet of ships are searching the waters near Palana, which is situated on the upper-west portion of the peninsula.
"All emergency services have sounded the alarm and have been dispatched to search the route of the plane," the Kamchatka regional government said in a statement per the NYT.
The suspected crash is Russia's third major commercial aviation disaster in the last three and a half years. In 2018, an An-148 regional jet plunged into a field just after takeoff from Moscow, killing all 71 aboard. In 2019, a Russian-made Sukhoi SSJ-100 jet burst into flames as it touched down on a runway in Moscow, killing 41. It's also at least the second failure involving a passenger plane flying to Palana from Kamchatka's main city, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, in recent memory. The last crash occurred in 2012, an An-28 approaching the remote town of about 3K people crashed into a mountainside, killing 10.
The An-26 is a twin-engine turboprop plane designed in the Soviet Union in the 1960s. The first models entered service in 1970 and production was halted in 1986. Hundreds remain in use, however, mostly by military. The plane involved in the crash first entered service in 1982.
The accident could be a problem for the small airline, which provides a vital link between a