Two hunters in the Russian Urals returned home without their prey, but inadvertently solved the mystery of an Antonov An-2 plane which disappeared from the radars last June without a trace.
Aleksandr Scryabin and Sergey Kuznetsov came across the
aircraft’s debris 8km from the town of Serov in the Sverdlovsk
Region late on Saturday, May 4.
According to Scryabin, the tail was distinguishable in the wreckage of the plane, the double wings, the flashing lights – blue and red, and a pile of human remains – skulls and bones.
"At first, they took the strange structure in the swamp for the collapsed power line pylon and set up a camp nearby, but when they approached it they understood that it was, in fact, the missing plane," the statement by the regional Interior Ministry said.
The representatives of the Emergencies Ministry, the police and the investigative committee are currently working on the scene of the accident.
Despite the crash site being relatively close to Serov, it’s situated in a hard-to-reach area, which is accessible only by caterpillar vehicle.
The officials have confirmed that the model of the crashed aircraft is An-2, reporting at least 11 skeletonized bodies found in the wreckage.
The rescuers say the helicopter will most likely be needed to remove the debris of the plane from the swamp.
There were at least 12 people on board the plane when it fell into the swamp. According to the police, the relatives of the deceased have begun to arrive at the crash site in the woods.
The investigators list two most likely causes of the crash:
technical fault or pilot error or a combination of both. Weather
conditions could also be a factor. The suggestions are based on how
the plane debris and the body remains were laid out. There is also
a theory that the plane crashed as it was preparing to land - by
hitting a tree with its wing.
There was no recorder - the so-called black box - on the plane, police said.
The relatives of each of the deceased will receive 1 million
rubles ($33,000) in compensation and will be assisted with the
The An-2 plane went missing on June 11, 2012 soon after lift off from the airfield in Serov.
The aircraft was used for fire-prevention monitoring of the taiga (boreal forest), but it was on an unsanctioned flight when the tragedy occurred. Reports in the media claimed the pilot was organizing aerial excursions for civilians in order to earn some extra cash.
The search for the plane went on for nearly six months by air and on foot and was aborted only in the middle of November. The operation expanded outside the Sverdlovsk Region as the rescuers had explored nearly 1 million sq km of the forest in the neighboring Chelyabinsk, Kurgan, Tyumen Regions and Khanty-Mansi autonomous district, but their efforts were fruitless.
"Any reproaches towards the search party that they weren’t checking the woods thoroughly enough are groundless. The plane crashed into a swamp and it was hard to find it even for the hunters, who know the taiga very well,” the statement by the Sverdlovsk Interior Ministry’s department added.
The An-2, which is also known by the nickname ‘Kukuruznik’ (maize farmworker) in Russia, is a single-engine biplane designed in the USSR in 1946 to be used as a utility or agricultural aircraft. The plane, which can carry two crew members and 12 passengers, was produced until 2002.
Four hundred and eleven hull-loss accidents involving An-2s have been registered so far, with 391 human lives lost in them.