At least 8 dead after Russian plane on fire-fighting mission crashes in Siberia

Rescue workers locate the wreckage of a Russian firefighting plane that went missing while extinguishing a forest blaze in Siberia and recover eight bodies.
A handout image shows an Il-76 tanker plane that has gone missing during a fight with forest fires on July 1, 2016 in Irkutsk region, southern Siberia, Russia.
A handout image shows an Il-76 tanker plane that has gone missing during a fight with forest fires on July 1, 2016 in Irkutsk region, southern Siberia, Russia. PHOTO: EPA

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - At least eight people have died after a Russian plane on a fire-fighting mission crashed in Siberia, Russian news agencies reported on Sunday (July 3).

Rescue workers found the Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane in the early hours of Sunday morning in Russia's Irkutsk region, according to a statement on the Emergency Situations Ministry website.

A photo accompanying the statement showed the plane smashed to pieces in dense forest, with the tail but little else intact.

RIA news agency said eight bodies had been found at the scene of the crash as well as two flight recorders, citing emergency official Leonid Belyaev. It is believed there were 10 people on board the plane, which had been missing since Friday, so the death toll could rise.

A search-and-rescue operation was launched involving land and air teams.

Russia has been criticised for its poor air safety record, and airplane crashes are frequent.

The multi-purpose Il-76 plane has been used by the Russian air force during Russia's military campaign in Syria.