Rescuers say they have found the bodies of nineteen victims after a plane crashed in a remote area of Russia’s Far East.
An Antonov An-26 airliner with 28 people on board crashed near its destination town of Palana in the region of Kamchatka.
The plane had taken off from the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on Tuesday morning when it missed a scheduled communication and disappeared from radar. The wreckage of the aircraft was found that evening on a coastal cliffside and in the Okhotsk Sea.
Police are still investigating the incident, looking at three possible causes of the crash — bad weather, equipment malfunction, or pilot error.
Russia’s Emergency Ministry said that the remains of 19 victims have been found so far, and one of them has already been identified.
“A group of 51 rescuers is still working on the spot on foot,” the local emergency ministry said in a statement.
Russian media have reported that none of the six crew members or twenty-two passengers on board had survived.
The head of the local government in Palana, Olga Mokhireva, was among the passengers, spokespeople of the Kamchatka government said.
The governor of Kamchatka, Vladimir Solodov, said that a group of government officials including Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev will head to Palana on Wednesday.
In the aftermath of the crash, the authorities in Kamchatka have declared three days of mourning.
Officials also said that families of the victims will receive payments of more than 3.5 million rubles (€40,000) that will include compensation from the airline, an insurance payment, and a subsidy from the regional government.
President Vladimir Putin has extended his condolences to the families of the victims.