Search teams have found wreckage of the An-26 passenger plane with 28 people aboard that disappeared earlier Tuesday in Russia's Far Eastern Kamchatka peninsula, the country's aviation agency told AFP.
"Rescuers found the wreckage of the aircraft. Given the geographic features of the landscape, rescue operations are difficult," the aviation agency said in an emailed statement, adding that the debris was found along the region's Pacific coast.
The An-26 was flying from Kamchatka's main city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to the coastal town of Palana when it disappeared at 2:40 pm (0240 GMT), Valentina Glazova, a spokeswoman for the local transport prosecutor's office, told AFP earlier Tuesday.
Officials said that communication with the plane had been lost nine kilometres from Palana's airport and 10 minutes before its scheduled landing time.
Helicopters, a maritime patrol aircraft and several ships were deployed in a search with a focus on the Okhotsk Sea.
The aviation agency statement said that the wreckage had been found at 9:06 pm local time (0906 GMT).
It added that the debris was located 4-5 kilometres from the airport's runway "on the side of the coastline", though it did not specify whether it was found in the sea.
Palana's airport is located 3.3 kilometres from the coastline.
Russian news agencies quoted local officials as saying most of the passengers were from Palana -- population of about 3,000 people -- including four local government officials and the town's head Olga Mokhiryova.
Kamchatka's government published a list of 28 people who were on board the plane, including Mokhiryova and one child born in 2014.
The Kamchatka government said the peninsula has five An-26 planes servicing its remote points. The regional transport ministry and the local aviation company said the plane was in good condition and had passed safety checks.
An-26 planes, which were manufactured from 1969 until 1986 during the Soviet era and are still used throughout the former USSR for civilian and military transport, have been involved in a number of accidents in recent years.
Four people died in March when an An-26 plane used by ex-Soviet Kazakhstan's military crashed while landing at an airport in the country's largest city of Almaty.
In September 2020, 26 people died in ex-Soviet Ukraine when a military An-26 plane crashed in the northeastern city of Kharkiv during a training flight.
An-26s have also been involved in Russian military accidents in recent years.
In March 2018, 39 people died when an An-26 transport plane crashed while landing at an airport in Syria.
A year earlier one soldier was killed when an An-26 crashed during a training flight near the central Russian city of Saratov.
While Russia has improved its air traffic safety record in recent years, poor aircraft maintenance and lax safety standards still persist.
Flying in Russia can also be dangerous in the vast country's isolated regions with difficult weather conditions such as the Arctic and the Far East.
The last major passenger plane accident took place in May 2019, when a Sukhoi Superjet belonging to the flag carrier airline Aeroflot crash-landed and caught fire on the runway of a Moscow airport, killing 41 people.
Russia also frequently experiences non-fatal air incidents that result in re-routed flights and emergency landings, usually stemming from technical issues.
In August 2019, a Ural Airlines flight carrying more than 230 people made a miracle landing in a Moscow corn field after a flock of birds was sucked into the engines shortly after take-off.
Russian An-26 aircraft with the tail number RA-26085 on the apron at the airport of Patropavlovsk-Kamchatckiy. Russian Emergency Situations Ministry/AFP