YEKATERINBURG, June 19 (Itar-Tass) — Unfavorable weather has complicated the search operation for an An-2 aircraft with eight passengers onboard, which has been missing for over a week in the Sverdlovsl region, Andrei Zalensky, the head of the regional emergencies administration said on Tuesday.
According to Zalensky, because of the stormy weather, it is next to impossible to carry out the search operation in the far-to-reach mountainous areas. Moreover, there is practically no information where the plane was heading when it was lost.
“The overall search area is about 160,000 square kilometers. As of now, more than 50,000 square kilometers have been combed. Rescuers have checked about 2,000 settlements, 178 hunting and 145 forestry farms, 295 fishing places, about 15,000 people have been interrogated. The search operation involves three helicopters and two airplanes,” Zalesky said and added that so far all these efforts are of no avail.
According to preliminary data, in the evening on June 11, the plane’s pilot 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. There were eight passengers onboard. Among the plane’s passengers presumably are the chief of Serov’s traffic police, a traffic police officer, an officer of a private bodyguard company, a businessman, a salesman from a telecom shop, and others.
A criminal case was opened on charges of violations of air traffic safety and aircraft operation rules that resulted in the death through negligence of one or more people.