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Russia finds plane wreckage, no survivors

Wednesday August 10 2011

By AFP

Russian rescuers on Wednesday found the remains of the cargo plane carrying 11 that crashed in the remote Magadan region, an official said, confirming that there were no survivors in the accident.

Following the crash of the ageing An-12 plane, the transport ministry watchdog announced it was grounding the dozen other models of the Soviet-era aircraft still in civilian use in Russia.

"Search teams found no survivors," spokesman of Russia's aviation agency Rosaviatsia Sergei Izvolsky told AFP. "There is great damage to the plane, its remains are strewn over a two kilometre radius."

Helicopters found the An-12 debris some 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the nearest town of Omsukchan at 16:30 local time Wednesday (0630 GMT), more than 24 hours after the plane went missing.

The Antonov disappeared off radars on Tuesday after reporting that it was leaking oil and that one of its four turboprop engines was on fire, requesting to make an emergency landing at Magadan airport.

Transport prosecutors said on Tuesday that all those aboard appeared to have perished in the accident.

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The ban on flying will be in effect until "carriers take priority measures to lower the risk of using An-12 type planes," the watchdog's statement said, quoted by news agencies.

Currently there are 12 such planes in use by Russian airlines.

The specific reason for the crash of the plane, which was carrying 16 tonnes of food supplies to the remote Chukotka village of Kepperveyem, is under investigation, Izvolsky said. He declined to say whether bodies were found.

The Investigative Committee has narrowed down the reasons to "technical malfunction of the plane" and "pilot errors" as its main theories, it said in a statement Wednesday.

The plane was operated by the Khabarovsk-based Avis Amur company.

The RussianPlanes.net aircraft register said it was the oldest An-12 still in civilian use in Russia, made in 1963.

It went down in one of Russia's most remote and sparsely populated regions in the sub-Arctic.

Russia has witnessed four crashes and hard landings of Soviet-made planes over the past month, three of which caused a total of 65 casualties. A hard landing Monday by an An-24 carrying 36 people injured 15 and broke off the plane's wing.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev this summer recommended that two Soviet-era airliners, the turboprop An-24 and the Tu-134 trijet, be taken out of regular service by the year end after two crashes killed 54 people in three weeks