IRKUTSK, July 2. /TASS/. The second day of a search operation for the Il-76 aircraft that went missing on Friday while extinguishing wildfires in southeast Siberia’s Irkutsk region has produced no results.
Russia’s Emergencies Ministry launched an active phase of the search operation on the ground on Saturday, with four groups of rescuers taking part in the effort. "It is a very difficult situation there, there are very high temperatures. The visibility is zero," a ministry official said.
The area of the search effort was increased by 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) earlier in the day after the rescuers received information from the local residents who were the last ones to see the plane. "It flew above them. They heard a clap and after that there was no noise of the engine," Deputy Emergencies Minister Leonid Belyayev said.
On Sunday, the number of rescuers and search teams will be increased, he said.
The Il-76 plane fighting wildfires in the Kachugsky area of the Irkutsk region lost contact early on July 1. Only the crew comprising 10 people was on board. The plane disappeared in a remote area. The Il-76 is the world’s largest fire-fighting plane. Dubbed the water bomber, it can drop 42 tons of water at a time on a hot spot.