Russian military plane crashes in Siberia, injuring 32

MOSCOW (REUTERS) – The Russian Defence Ministry said on Monday (Dec 19) that one of its planes had crashed in north-east Siberia with 39 people on board as it tried to make an emergency landing near a Soviet-era military base.

Russian news agencies reported that nobody had been killed in the incident, but said 32 people had been airlifted to hospital, 16 of whom were in serious condition.

The Il-18 aircraft came down around 30 kilometres from an airfield near the town of Tiksi in the Sakha Republic at 4.45am local time, the TASS news agency reported.

High winds may have forced the plane to make an emergency landing, Alexei Kolodeznikov, the deputy head of the regional government, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

The Defence Ministry said a team of military investigators had been flown to the crash site.

The Il-18, a Soviet-era propeller plane whose design dates from the 1950s, had taken off from an air base in Kansk in western Siberia with 39 people on board, including seven crew.

Tiksi, a coastal town of around 5,000 people inside the Arctic circle, hosts a Soviet-era military air base that has been renovated in recent years as part of President Vladimir Putin’s drive to remilitarise the Arctic.