IRKUTSK, December 27 (RIA Novosti) – Emergency workers have recovered the four remaining bodies of the nine victims of a plane crash outside the eastern Siberian city of Irkutsk, a local official said Friday.
The bodies, along with the plane’s black boxes that may provide crucial information about the causes of the crash, were discovered inside the plane but have not yet been recovered, said Valentin Nelyubov, head of the Irkutsk Region’s Emergencies Ministry.
The Antonov An-12 transport plane crashed on Thursday afternoon, killing all six crew members and three individuals accompanying the cargo on board. Five of the bodies were found immediately, and Emergencies Ministry officials had said the search was ongoing for the remaining four.
Officials said that all the victims were residents of the Irkutsk region.
The plane, owned by the Irkutsk Aviation Plant and reportedly transporting industrial cargo from Novosibirsk, damaged the roofs of two military warehouses in the crash.
Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said a criminal case has been opened into possible violations of transport safety rules.
A number of An-12s have been involved in fatal accidents in recent years, including one operated by Russian charter firm Avis-Amur that crashed in Russia's far east in August 2011, killing all 11 on board, following a fire caused by a fuel leak.
That particular aircraft was within 130 hours of its 20,000 hour design airframe life, according to the Moscow-based Interstate Aviation Committee, which investigated the accident. The last Soviet-built An-12 rolled off the production line in 1973.
Pilots generally praise the An-12 as a sound design, and it has a good safety record in its long service with the Russian Air Force. Many, however, are now operated by small airlines, often based in third-world countries, that fail to properly maintain their planes or overload them in a bid to make extra profit.