YAROSLAVL, June 07, /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s Interior Ministry has confirmed that only the pilot was flying aboard the Antonov An-2 bi-plane that crashed in Russia’s Yaroslavl region to the north-east of Moscow on Saturday.
“At least three eyewitnesses, who happened to be nearby during the plane’s take-off, saw only the pilot get on the An-2 and lift off later,” the spokesman for the regional police, Alexander Shikhanov, told Itar-Tass.
The police said they were searching for possible victims and had sealed off the accident site as the plane had fallen apart and its fragments were scattered around a vast area of the woods.
The regional branch of the Russian Emergencies Ministry (EMERCOM) said that the plane caught fire upon the crush but firefighters prevented spread of the fire in the forest.
“Over 30 rescuers and nine vehicles were working at the crash site. The fire has been put out but the plane is completely burnt-out,” said Mikhail Zverev, the spokesman of the EMERCOM regional branch.
According to preliminary reports, the plane was making an unauthorised flight when it collapsed to the ground, a police source said.
“It took off from a mothballed airfield and fell down immediately after the take-off near the village of Staroselye and caught fire,” the source said. “An individual owned the An-2 and the owner was allegedly at the steering wheel.”
The Antonov An-2 Colt is a light multi-functional bush bi-plane. It is broadly used in parachute sports as well as in agriculture, deliveries of freight and short-haul passenger transportation.
The investigation into the accident is underway.