Nine killed as Russian cargo plane crashes in Siberia

Monday, May 26, 2008

All seven on board a Russian Antonov An-12 have been killed after the plane crashed near the Siberian city of Chelyabinsk. The Moskovia Airlines plane had left the city's airport empty and was destined for Perm in the Ural Mountains.

An emergency ministry spokeswoman, Natalya Andryanova, said on state TV "The pilot told ground control that there was smoke in the cockpit and he decided to return to the airport. The plane crashed as he was coming in for landing." The plane is reported to have gone down in forest about a dozen miles from the city at about 6 p.m. According to regional emergency official Vyacheslav Latunkin, the plane hit a power line.

The An-12 is a large, four-engined cargo turboprop that can carry 20 tons and was designed in the 1950s. Large numbers were sold for use in both the military and civilian markets, and around 100 are still in service. Dmitry Medvedev expressed his condolences and ordered Transport Minister Igor Levitin to launch an inquiry. Interfax reports that a criminal investigation has also been launched into possible regulatory breaches.

Local resident Vladimir Zonov said wreckage was spread across 300 metres. He also said the plane crashed into a wheat field and not forest as otherwise reported.

Russian air safety is among the worst in the world, as is that of many former Soviet countries. Industry analysts blame poor pilot training, cost-reduction at the cost of safety and inadequate control by the government.


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