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YEKATERINBURG, July 6 (Itar-Tass) —— Rescuers on boats are inspecting area along the River Sosva in search for an An-2 airplane with 13 people onboard that went missing in the Russian Sverdlovsk region more than three weeks ago, a spokesman for the regional emergencies administration told Itar-Tass on Friday.
“The search operation involves 500 rescuers and 94 vehicles. Today, rescuers are combing an area between the settlements of Andianovichi and Cheroyarsky near the town of Serov. In all, since the beginning of the search operation about 260,000 square kilometers have been surveyed, including 1,3000 square kilometers comber by ground search parties,” the spokesman said.
“Conditions in which the operation proceeds is next to extreme,” said Yevgeny Kuivashev, the governor of the Sverdlovsk region.
Search operations are also 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.