Russian plane missing since June 2012 found

Reuters News
Posted: May 05, 2013 8:42 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The wreckage of a Russian light aircraft that disappeared last June with 13 people on board has been discovered by hunters just a few kilometers from the plane's takeoff strip near the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.

Rescue teams were unable to find the An-2 light biplane, which took off without permission on June 11 from a regional airport in Serov with a pilot and 12 passengers on board. Official search efforts were halted four months later.

Investigators had suspected that the group on board, which included Serov's traffic police chief, could have taken an unscheduled flight after a drinking session to go on a fishing trip or to visit a Russian-style sauna.

Two hunters were reported by Russian news agencies to have found the wreckage of the plane in marshlands eight km (five miles) from the airport on Saturday evening.

Body parts of 11 people were also found at the site, with the wreckage identified as that of an An-2 similar to the one lost last year, the regional transport department of the Interior Ministry said on its website on Sunday.

Russia and other former Soviet republics have among the worst air safety records, with an accident rate almost three times the world average in 2011, according to the International Air Transport Association. IATA measures accidents and aircraft losses in relation to the number of takeoffs.

(Reporting by Maya Dyakina; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Mike Collett-White)