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YEKATERINBURG, July 20 (Itar-Tass) —— The use of aircrafts has proved to be inefficient in a search operation for the An-2 plane with 13 persons onboard that went missing in Russia’s Sverdlovsk region more than a month ago. Now the regional authorities pin their hopes only on ground search parties. Sverdlovsk region governor Yevgeny Kuivashev has pledged that that the search operation will be over only when ground search parties comb the area surveyed by aircrafts.
“Planes and helicopters have flown over all areas where the plane might be. They have done our best, but air surveying has proved to be inefficient. Now hope only for ground search parties. The search operation will be stopped only after rescuers walk about the entire area surveyed from the air. Now it is hard to say how long it might take. The search operation is complicated because of specifics of local terrain featuring forest-covered mountains with lost of small rivers and bogs,” the governor told Itar-Tass.
According to the governor, no volunteers can be engaged at this stage of the search operation, it will be carried out only by professional rescuers, policemen and forest rangers who work in shifts in the taiga.
Chief of the Sverdlovsk region police department Mikhail Borodin has also pledged to continue the search operation until the plane or its passengers are found. “Frankly speaking, first we were afraid to lose our men. So, we had to hire experienced , for instance hunters,” he noted. “We shall search for the missing plane until its passengers are found.”
Ground search parties continue to comb areas around Lake Valentorskoye, the Burtym mountain, and along the River Tylai towards the settlement of Sosnovka, a spokesman for the regional emergencies administration said.
“In all, the search operation involves 326 rescuers, including 260 policemen, rangers, hunters and fishermen, and 70 vehicles,” the spokesman said.
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.