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External factors behind Il-76 fire-fighting plane crash in East Siberia — ministry

August 05, 19:48 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The Il-76 plane crashed on July 1 while fighting a large fire outbreak threatening populated areas amid a heavy smoke in hard-to-access terrain in the Kachugsky district of the Irkutsk Region
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© Maxim Grigoriev/TASS

MOSCOW, August 5. /TASS/. Low visibility and high turbulence from burning taiga are behind the crash of an Ilyushin Il-76 plane on a firefighting mission in the Irkutsk Region in East Siberia, the press office of the Russian Emergencies Ministry told TASS on Friday.

The Emergencies Ministry announced the interim results of the crash released by the Inter-State Aviation Committee.

The Il-76 plane crashed on July 1 while fighting a large fire outbreak threatening populated areas amid a heavy smoke in hard-to-access terrain in the Kachugsky district of the Irkutsk Region.

The plane’s debris was found on July 3 on the slope of a hill several kilometers from the community of Rybny Yan. The aircraft actually fully burnt down. All the plane’s 10 crewmembers died.

As the results of the interim probe show, "the reports by crewmembers suggest that the ground was seen only below or was not seen at all."

According to weather forecasts at the time of the crash, there was low visibility and a heavy smoke in the area where the plane was extinguishing wildfires.

The Il-76 was approaching the fire outbreak at an altitude of 250-400 meters but continued its descent to achieve effect from discharging water on the burning taiga, the interim report says.

"It is standard practice for the crews of aircraft of the Russian Emergencies Ministry to fly at extremely low altitudes; otherwise there will be no effect from extinguishing fires as water simply won’t reach a fire outbreak, evaporating in the air," the interim report said.

"Il-76 planes discharge water from altitudes of 60 to 100 meters and fire-extinguishing efforts with the help of water discharge aviation instruments mounted on these aircraft are the most effective in the world. The activation of the ground proximity warning system at extremely low altitude is a standard situation," the Emergencies Ministry said.

By the Russian president’s decree, all the ten crewmembers of the crashed Il-76 plane were awarded the Order of Courage posthumously.

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