Search teams that were able to reach the crash site of a military transport plane in the remote stretches of the Russian Far East have found no survivors, the Emergency Situations Ministry said Thursday.
The An-26 with six crew members on board vanished from radars during a “technical flight” Wednesday evening in the Khabarovsk region 8,000 kilometers east of Moscow. Subsequent reports said the aircraft crashed in a nature reserve outside the regional capital of Khabarovsk while performing a low-altitude flight at 600 meters.
The emergency ministry’s regional branch said its Mi-8 helicopter found the wreckage on a 900-meter mountain, but rescue crews were only able to reach the site after a five-hour hike.
“Unfortunately, there are no survivors as a result of the disaster,” the branch said in a statement on its website.
Khabarovsk region Governor Mikhail Degtyaryov identified the perished crew members as specialists who hailed from various Russian cities, without naming them or going into details.
Citing unnamed sources, Interfax reported Wednesday that the company Flight Inspections and Systems, which tests aircraft communication tools in air, was due to test the An-26’s communication systems during the ill-fated flight.
The aircraft’s owner, the regional airline Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky Air Enterprise, has said that the An-26 was in serviceable condition when it disappeared from radars and crashed.
This is at least the fourth aviation incident involving the Soviet-era An-26 plane in recent years, with the July 2021 crash leaving 28 people dead in the neighboring remote Kamchatka peninsula.