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YEKATERINBURG, June 27 (Itar-Tass) —— Policemen who take part in a search operation for an An-2 airplane with 13 people onboard that went missing in the Sverdlovsk region more than two weeks ago have searched an area of 500 square kilometers along rivers, a spokesman for the regional police department told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
An area of more than 100 square kilometers has been combed in the past 24 hours alone, he added. “Today, police search parties are tasked to comb a forest along the Serov-Krasnoturyinsk highway. Each policemen will walk a territory of around 7.5 kilometers,” the spokesman noted.
According to the regional emergencies administration, the search operation involves 1,500 people, 331 vehicles, including 12 aircrafts. “Today it is planned to make 17 survey flights to inspect an area 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,” a spokesman for the local emergency administration said. The search operation 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.