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Pilots of MiG-31 that crashed in Siberia to last moment struggled to save plane

January 26, 2016, 19:55 UTC+3 KRASNOYARSK

The officers were staying in the cockpit to the end and ejected from the engulfed in flames plane only when the situation became hopeless, an official says

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© Yuri Smityuk/TASS

KRASNOYARSK, January 26. /TASS/. The crew of the MiG-31 fighter that crashed near the town of Kansk in Russia’s Krasnoyarsk territory in Siberia on Monday were to the last moment struggling to save the plane, deputy of the Krasnoyarsk region’s Legislative Assembly Yuri Shvytkin who is in charge of security agencies in the parliament, told TASS on Tuesday.

"They [the pilots] told me the details today. The pilots were trying to save the plane to the end. The officers were staying in the cockpit to the end and ejected from the engulfed in flames plane only when the situation became hopeless," he said.

On the night to Tuesday, the pilots were taken to the Krasnoyarsk regional clinical hospital. Medics assessed their condition as stable, satisfactory. Their injuries are mostly bruises and minor abrasions. Their psycho-emotional state is also satisfactory. On Tuesday afternoon, the pilots were transferred to a military hospital for further treatment.

Meanwhile, press secretary of the Krasnoyarsk hospital Irina Kochetkova confirmed to TASS earlier on Tuesday that the MiG-31 pilots were transferred to a military hospital. The pilots were not seriously injured, they got only bruises, she said. The hospital previously said it planned to discharge the pilots on Wednesday.

The emergency warplane pilots who ejected were promptly found and evacuated by a search and rescue team.

On Monday, the Russian Investigative Committee’s military investigation department for the Krasnoyarsk garrison opened a criminal case over the crash of the MiG-31 fighter. "Investigators have gone to the scene. The criminal case has been opened under Article 315 of the Russian Criminal Code "violation of the rules of flights and preparation for them," a source in the department said.

The military prosecutor of the Krasnoyarsk garrison also visited the accident site.

The Russian Defence Ministry reported on Monday that the fighter of the Central Military District’s Air Force and Air Defence grouping went out of control during a combat mission drill and crashed in a wooded area 40 kilometres northwest of the town of Kansk." The ministry said the aircraft carried no ammunition load and its crash caused no destruction on the ground. "According to preliminary data, the crash of the MiG-31 plane could have been caused by the equipment failure," the ministry added.

The Krasnoyarsk regional emergency response services told TASS that a Mi-8 helicopter was dispatched to pick up the pilots of the crashed MiG-31 interceptor fighter. "The accident took place near the Khayerino village of the Kansk district. The crew has ejected and a Mi-8 helicopter has been sent to search for the pilots," the source said. The regional "112" emergency response service has also reported the warplane’s crash. According to the service, the MiG-31 fighter crashed outside populated localities at about 21:10, local time (17:10, Moscow time).

The Defense Ministry’s press service reported that "a special commission comprising experts of the flight safety service of the aviation of the Russian Armed Forces and Chief Command of the Russian Aerospace Forces flew to the accident site" to investigate the crash causes.

Meanwhile, a source in the Chief Command of the Russian Aerospace Forces told TASS that flights of the MiG-31 fighters have been suspended until the causes of the Monday crash of this aircraft in the Krasnoyarsk region (Siberia) are found out.

"The decision to suspend the flights of this type of aircraft has been made until the causes and circumstances of this air accident are established," the source said. According to him, the emergency plane pilots were promptly found and evacuated by the search and rescue group. "Their lives and health are not in danger, they will soon return to their duties," the source said. According to him, "the preliminary cause of the MiG-31 fighter crash is a technical failure." The source added that the interceptor plane, hitting the ground, was fully destroyed and is beyond repair.

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