Russian ‘miracle’ as passengers survive plane landing in Siberia

MOSCOW, July 16 (Reuters) – The 18 people on board a Russian Antonov An-28 passenger plane that disappeared from radar were found alive on Friday after the plane was forced to make a hard landing in Siberia , announced the Ministry of Emergencies.

Fears had swirled over the fate of the plane after it went missing while flying from the town of Kedrovy to the city of Tomsk. Rescuers were dispatched to search for the aircraft and located the survivors in a wooded area near the damaged aircraft.

“We all believed in the miracle and thanks to the professionalism of the pilots, it happened, everyone is alive,” regional governor Sergei Zvashkin said in a statement.

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The damaged body of the plane could be seen lying overturned in a wooded field in footage released by the TASS news agency.

“The AN-28 aircraft overturned during its hard landing. Its nose was damaged as well as its landing gear,” TASS said citing an emergency service source.

The crew was forced to make an emergency landing due to what appears to have been an engine failure, although this is not yet conclusive, TASS said citing a source.

The ministry said all 18 people on board survived and were now being evacuated from the site. He originally said 19 people were on board, but revised the figure.

The plane was operated by SiLA, a small airline that offers regional flights in Siberia. The airline canceled all flights on An-28 jets scheduled for Saturday following the incident, local media reported.

The incident comes less than two weeks after a similar plane, an Antonov An-26, crashed into a cliff in poor visibility conditions on the remote Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s far east, killing all 28 people on board. Read more

An Antonov-28, the same type of plane that went missing over Tomsk, crashed in a forest in Kamchatka in 2012, killing 10 people. Investigators said both pilots were drunk at the time of the crash.

Russian aviation safety standards have improved in recent years, but accidents, especially involving aging planes in remote areas, are not uncommon.

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Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Gleb Stolyarov; Editing by Andrew Osborn, Tom Balmforth and Raissa Kasolowsky

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