Russian 'miracle' as passengers survive hard plane landing in Siberia

·2-min read

By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Tom Balmforth

MOSCOW (Reuters) -All 18 people on board a Russian Antonov An-28 passenger plane that vanished from radars were found alive on Friday after the aircraft was forced to make a hard landing in Siberia, the emergencies ministry said.

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

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

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

"The AN-28 plane turned over during its hard landing. Its nose has been damaged as well as its landing gear," TASS cited an emergency services source as saying.

The crew was forced to make an emergency landing due to what looks to have been engine failure although that is not yet conclusive, TASS cited a source as saying.

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

The aircraft was operated by SiLA, a small airline that offers regional flights in Siberia. The airline cancelled all its flights on An-28 aircraft due on Saturday following the incident, local media reported.

The incident comes less than two weeks after a similar aircraft, 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.

An Antonov-28, the same type of plane that went missing over Tomsk, crashed in a Kamchatka forest 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 ageing planes in far-flung regions, are not uncommon.

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

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