YEKATERINBURG, November 13 (Itar-Tass) — The search for the An-2 plane missing in the Urals region since June has been stopped. The relevant instruction was signed by regional Prime Minister Denis Pasler on Tuesday.
The document notes that due to the worsening weather conditions and snow cover, the ground and aerial search for the missing aircraft is impossible, because it places the rescuers at risk.
The document did not say if the search might resume next spring.
Regional police said in the evening of June 11, a group of persons drank alcohol before boarding the plane in Serov. Several cars were left behind in the airfield. Supposedly, they belonged to passengers. Under one of the versions, the group might have gone fishing or flown to a sauna in a neighboring region. The passengers' mobile phones did not answer.
Khatib Kashapov, a native of the town of Orsk, Orenburg region, took off on crop-duster An-2 without permission. It reportedly had up to 13 persons on board and the pilot, including the Serov road police chief, a road policeman, a guard, a pensioner, a businessman, a mobile phone seller and others, regional police chief Valery Gorelykh said.
Criminal proceedings were opened over the disappearance of the An-2 plane under Criminal Code article on "violation of aircraft operation regulations and traffic rules, which resulted in the death of two or more persons by negligence."
The quality of fuel could not have caused the crash, investigators confirmed later.
A total of 3,000 square kilometers have been searched by ground search parties, and aircraft scanned 3000,000 square kilometers of the territory, including 115,000 square kilometers a second time.
The Kalinin district court of Chelyabinsk fined the director of the AVIA-ZOV company, the owner of the missing An-2 plane, for not reporting its disappearance promptly. Director Oleg Zolin admitted his fault but insisted that the An-2 had been hijacked.