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YEKATERINBURG, June 13 (Itar-Tass) — Criminal proceedings have been opened over the disappearance of an An-2 plane with eight passengers on board in the Sverdlovsk region. The case was opened under Criminal Code article on "violation of aircraft operation regulations and traffic rules, which resulted in the death of two or more persons by negligence," an official at the Urals investigation department on the transport told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
"As of now, the investigators have finished the inspection of the landing ground in the city of Serov. They have retrieved the flight and maintenance logs. There are four main versions: technical failure, violation of air traffic rules or aircraft operation regulations, hijacking and poor weather conditions," the official said, adding, "As of now, five landing areas have been inspected. The search for the plane is continuing."
Regional police said in the evening of June 11, a group of persons drank alcohol before boarding the plane. Several cars were left behind in the airfield. Supposedly, they belong to passengers. Under one of the versions, the group might have gone fishing or flown to a sauna in a neighboring region. The passengers' mobile phones do not answer.
According to preliminary information, Khatib Kashapov, a native of the town of Orsk, Orenburg region, took off on crop-duster An-2 without permission. The plane belongs to Avi Zov, a company based in Chelyabinsk.
"It can have up to eight persons on board, including the Serov road police chief, a road policeman, a guard, a pensioner, an businessman, a mobile phone seller and others," spokesman for the Interior Ministry's regional department Valery Gorelykh said, "taking part in the rescue efforts are 73 police, seven personnel of the Emergency Situations Ministry, two aircraft and a Mi-8 helicopter."