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Russian Charter Flight with Six Lost Over Afghanistan

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A Russian chartered flight, an air ambulance carrying six individuals, including four crew members and two passengers, is presumed to have met a tragic fate over the mountainous terrains of Afghanistan. The Russian aviation watchdog has confirmed the disappearance of the aircraft from radar, sparking concerns of a crash.

The missing plane, a French-made Dassault Falcon 10 jet, manufactured in 1978, was on a journey from Pattaya, Thailand, to Moscow, Russia. Its itinerary included a stopover at Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and a refueling stop at Gaya, India. The final destination of the flight was Zhukovsky International Airport in Moscow. The aircraft, co-owned by the Athletic Group LLC and a private individual, lost communication and vanished from radar, a concerning development disclosed by Russian aviation authorities.

Russian chartered flight
Russian chartered flight

Concurrent with this announcement, northern Afghanistan’s police in Badakhshan province reported a plane crash late Saturday night near the Zebak district in a remote, mountainous area. Zabihullah Amiri, the Afghan provincial police spokesperson, revealed the crash site’s challenging accessibility, located more than 200 kilometers from Fayzabad, the provincial capital. A team dispatched to the crash site faced a grueling journey exceeding 12 hours.

Adding to the complexity of the situation, Abdul Wahid Rayan, a spokesperson for the Taliban’s Information and Culture Ministry, identified the aircraft as belonging to a Moroccan company. This statement contradicts Russian and Indian aviation authorities who have labeled the aircraft as Moroccan-registered. The nature of the discrepancy remains unresolved, creating an air of uncertainty around the aircraft’s ownership.

Indian civil aviation officials clarified that the crashed Falcon was not an Indian chartered aircraft or a scheduled commercial flight. They confirmed its role as an air ambulance operating from Thailand to Moscow, with a layover at Gaya Airport for refueling.

The cause of the crash and information on casualties have not been confirmed yet. Mr. Rayan attributed the crash to an “engine problem,” although no further details were provided. The incident underscores the risks associated with traversing Afghanistan’s airspace, especially since international airlines have largely avoided the region following the Taliban’s takeover in 2021. The few that do enter Afghan airspace usually pass quickly over the sparsely populated Wakhan Corridor in Badakhshan province, situated between Tajikistan and Pakistan.

This incident has raised concerns regarding air travel safety in the region, highlighting the difficulties in conducting search and rescue operations in remote and inaccessible areas. The international community awaits further details as investigations into the crash proceed, hoping for clarity amidst the prevailing uncertainties.

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