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200,000 sq km inspected in search operation for missing An-2 plane in Sverdlovsk region.

June 27, 2012, 12:05 UTC+3

Today it is planned to make 17 survey flights to inspec an ares of 28,400 square kilometers to the east, south and north of the town of Serov

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YEKATERINBURG, June 27 (Itar-Tass) — Rescue aircrafts have surveyed an area of more than 200,000 square kilometers in a bid to find an An-2 airplane with 13 people onboard that went missing in the Sverdlovsk region two weeks ago, a spokesman for the regional emergencies administration told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.

“Today it is planned to make 17 survey flights to inspec an ares of 28,400 square kilometers to the east, south and north of the town of Serov. Rescuers are using echo-sounding devices in the Bogoslovsky pond. Ground search parties are combing areas around the settlement of Rudnichny, and a forest near Lake Shchuchye, the River Talma and the Katasmisnkiye bogs,” the spokesman said.

“The search area features thick forests, a lot of fallen trees, bogs, springs, gullies and ditches filled with water. Moreover, the terrain is uneven with lots of hills,” a member of a ground search team told Itar-Tass.

According to the regional emergency administration, since the launch of the search operation ground search parties have already walked more than 900 square kilometers. The search operation involving about 2,000 people, including policemen, rescuers and volunteers, is conducted in neighboring regions as well – in the Khanty-Mansi autonomous area, in the Chelyabinsk, Kurgan, and Tyumen regions.

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 the pilot and twelve 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. 

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