Belarussian cargo plane crashes in Siberia, 7 killed

Several people were killed when a Belarussian-owned cargo plane crash-landed in Siberia after disappearing from radar just outside the Russian city of Irkutsk, officials said.

Russia’s federal aviation agency Rosaviatsiya said the Antonov An-12 plane, owned by Belarussian company Grodno, circled around after first coming in to land, at which point communication was lost.

“The only thing we can see is that, unfortunately, everyone is dead,” said Igor Kobzev, the regional governor of Irkutsk.

Belarussian authorities said the plane had an experienced crew of three Belarussians, two Russians and two Ukrainians, who had all died, and the plane had not been carrying any cargo.

Russian prosecutors later said there had been two additional passengers on board.

The Belarussian transport ministry said the plane was completing a go-around in “difficult weather conditions”.

The local branch of the Russian Investigative Committee said it had opened a criminal case over violation of transport safety rules.

Antonov aircraft were manufactured during the Soviet era and are still used throughout the former Soviet Union for civilian and military transport.

They have been involved in a number of accidents in recent years.

Once notorious for accidents, Russia’s major airlines have shifted from ageing Soviet aircraft to more modern planes.

But poor maintenance and lax safety standards persist, and the country has recently seen several deadly air disasters.

In September, six people died when an An-26 transport aircraft crashed outside the far eastern city of Khabarovsk.

Meanwhile, in July, an An-26 flying over the Kamchatka Peninsula crashed, killing all 28 people on board.