Military plane crashes in Russian Far East, 18 feared dead

Sunday, December 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MOSCOW (AP) _ A military cargo plane with 18 people on board caught fire and crashed Sunday in the Russian Far East while attempting an emergency landing, officials said.

A rescue helicopter was sent to the site of the crash of the Il-76 airplane, but found no survivors before having to give up the search when night fell, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

The Il-76 was carrying 18 people, said Dmitry Starshenkov, a spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry in the Khabarovsk region. A border guards' spokesman said there were eight crew members and 10 cargo handlers on board.

The pilot of the jet reported a fire on board at an altitude of 29,000 feet as it flew over the Khabarovsk region, 3,800 miles southeast of Moscow, ITAR-Tass reported.

The pilot said he was preparing for an emergency landing when radio contact with the aircraft was broken, and the plane disappeared from radar screens, the report said.

The plane, which was carrying a cargo load of 36 tons, broke apart when it attempted to make an emergency landing near the village of Novaya Inya, about 65 miles east of Okhotsk in the Far East, the Interfax news agency said.

A border guards rescue helicopter spotted fragments of the plane, which had broken into three parts, ITAR-Tass reported. Rescuers said there was virtually no chance of finding survivors.

The flight originated in Moscow and was en route to Andyr, a port city on the Bering Sea.