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MOSCOW, December 26, /ITAR-TASS/. Weather condition could not have caused the crash of an An-12 transport plane near Russia’s Siberian city of Irkutsk that killed nine persons, a source in the local aircraft sector told Itar-Tass.
“The weather at the moment of landing was quite favourable, the visibility was within norm,” the source said. “Thin fog was reported in the vicinity of the airdrome but it could be a cause of the crash.”
According to the source, all crew members of the ill-fated plane were resident of Irkutsk and knew the landscape quite well.
Meanwhile, a source in the local law enforcement bodies told Itar-Tass that the An-12 crew had reported no emergency situation before landing. “According to the crew’s communication with air traffic controllers, they reported their readiness for landing,” the source said.
Another source said that despite its 50-year-old age, the plane was in a good technical condition. “It has undergone all maintenance procedures and was regularly used to transport small cargoes,” the source said.
The plane crashed while landing in the territory of an army unit near the railway station of Batareinaya. There were nine people onboard the plane - six crew members and three officers accompanying the cargo. All of them died. Six dead bodies have been recovered by now.
The An-12 was leading for landing at a low altitude when it touched the building of military depots some ten kilometers away from the runway. It fell down on warehouses and caused a fire. “No explosion followed. Split fuel caught fire on an area of 20 square meters. Open fire has already been extinguished. No one from among the servicemen had been hurt. The plane received minor damages.
Russia’s Investigations Committee has opened a criminal case on charges of violating air traffic rules (article 263 of the Russian Criminal Code). Earlier, a source in the local law enforcement agencies said that the crash might have been caused by a human error or by a technical malfunction. “Several theories are being looked at, including a technical malfunction and a human error,” the source said.
Rescue operations have been suspended till Friday morning, since flight recorders have not yet been found. The crash site has been cordoned off. The Irkutsk international airport is working in a regular regime, a spokesman for the Russian Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsia) said.
The crashed An-12 was registered as an experimental aviation aircraft and was making a flight from Novosibirsk to Itrkutsk. The plane was transporting spare parts to the Irkutsk aircraft repair base.
The An-12B (serial number 3341509) was manufactured on December 24, 1963 and made its maiden flight in the same year, according to the russianplanes.net specialized website. By today, the plane exhausted its age resource by 91 percent, and by 31 percent in terms of operational hours. No details are available about the plane’s operation before 1989. It was awarded its hull number in October 1987 after the crash of a similar aircraft with that number. Since 1993, the plane has been operated by the Irkutsk aircraft production enterprise. In the mid-2000s, it was leased to the Moskovia air company (former Gromov Air).