Fears passenger plane has crashed over Russia after losing contact

A plane carrying 29 people is feared to have crashed in the sea near Russia.

Emergency officials said they had located the An-26 crash site in the Sea of Okhotsk.

Ships from the Russian Pacific Fleet have been sent to the area in the Shelikhov Gulf.

The aircraft was en route from Yelizovo airport in regional capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to the settlement of Palana on the Kamchatka peninsula when it vanished from radar.

A report said that the 39-year-old twin-engine turboprop Antonov got into trouble as it prepared to land.

The Russian Pacific Fleet was called in to help the search, along with a plane and two helicopters.

Interfax initially indicated it could have gone down close to a coal mine near Palana on the west coast of Kamchatka, near the Sea of Okhotsk.

Emergency sources said the plane likely got into trouble some 15 to 20 km from the airport.

There are 22 passengers on board including a child, plus six crew, officials said.

The volcanic peninsula is currently hit by raging wildfires, but a report said viability was good around the plane's routing.

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An emergencies official said: "The duty shift of the crisis management centre of the Russian Emergencies Ministry's Main Directorate in Kamchatka region received information that the An-26 aircraft, on a passenger flight from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Palana, did not get in touch at the specified time."

Regional deputy transport minister Anatoly Bannikov, said: "It was supposed to arrive at the Palana airport at 15:05 (local time).

"The plane did not arrive at the appointed time.

"According to updated data, there were 28 people on board… six crew members and 22 passengers, including one child born in 2014."

The head of the Palana village administration, Olga Mokhireva, 42, Is reported to have been on board.

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The pilot was named as Dmitry Nikiforov, and the co-pilot Alexander Anisimov, 27.

An Mi8 helicopter also assisted the search.

Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin ordered a special commission to find out what had happened to the plane.

A criminal case was also launched into its fate, a normal measure when a plane goes missing or crashes in Russia.

The plane was produced in 1982 and was owned by Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise, said local transport officials.

It has a valid certificate of airworthiness, they said.

The Soviet-era workhorse planes are widely used in remote areas of Russia.

In 2012, an An-28 plane crashed near Palana, killing 10 people.

The pilots were eventually found guilty, as they had alcohol in their blood.

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