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YEKATERINBURG, April 5 (Itar-Tass) – Investigators check information about an SMS message received by relatives from the missing pilot of the An-2 plane that disappeared in 2012, a spokeswoman for the press service of the Russian Investigative Committee's Ural regional transport investigation department, Irina Sarkisyan, told Itar-Tass.
"We check the information received from Khatip Kashapov's son, who said that he had an SMS message sent from his father's number that the user was within the zone of the network operation. The investigators have asked the telephone operator company for information and take all appropriate actions, Sarkisyan said.
The investigation into the criminal case on charges of violation of the air transport safety regulations was opened after the An-2 plane with passengers disappeared in June 2012. It was suspended in October. If the information received from the relatives is confirmed, the investigation will be resumed, Sarkisyan said.
The An-2 with the pilot and supposedly 12 passengers aboard disappeared in the Urals more than ten months ago. The plane took off and flew away on June 11. Captain Khatip Kashapov piloted the plane without permission on that flight. The search was officially stopped in November 13. In the search, aircraft and ground groups examined more than one million sq m. The small plane was looked for in the Perm Territory, the Chelyabinsk, Tyumen, Kurgan and Sverdlovsk regions and the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area. All the efforts failed. No traces of the plane or its passengers were found. The An-2 belongs to the Chelyabinsk airline Avia Zov.
The Sverdlovsk Region's Governor Yevgeny Kuivashev said the search for the An-2 and the missing passengers may resume in late April 2013.