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Russian charter flight carrying six passengers goes missing over Afghanistan

A Russian chartered flight carrying six people is believed to have crashed over the remote mountainous region of Afghanistan after it disappeared from radar, according to the Russian aviation watchdog.

Russian aviation authorities confirmed in a statement that the missing plane was a chartered ambulance flight travelling from Pattaya, Thailand to Gaya, India, via Tashkent, Uzbekistan, with its final destination being Zhukovsky International Airport in Moscow.

There were four crew members and two passengers on board.

A the Dassault Falcon 6X during Paris Air Show (AFP via Getty Images)
A the Dassault Falcon 6X during Paris Air Show (AFP via Getty Images)

The aircraft “stopped communicating and disappeared from radar screens”, Russian authorities said, adding that the plane was co-owned by the Athletic Group LLC and a private individual.

The plane was a French-made Dassault Falcon 10 jet manufactured in 1978, the statement said.

Russian aviation’s announcement coincides with reports from northern Afghanistan, where police in Badakhshan province stated that a plane crashed late Saturday night, according to a provincial police spokesperson.

The plane crash was reported in a remote area near Zebak district of the mountainous region, Zabihullah Amiri, the Afghan provincial police spokesperson said.

Mr Amiri told Reuters a team had been sent to the location of the crash, but it could take more than 12 hours to reach as it was a remote area more than 200km (124 miles) from the provincial capital, Fayzabad.

India’s civil aviation authority stated that the incident involved a plane crash that was neither a scheduled commercial flight nor an Indian chartered aircraft amid reports that it was an Indian plane.

The Indian authorities said the crashed Falcon aircraft was an air ambulance that was flying from Thailand to Moscow and took a stopover at Gaya Airport in Bihar for refuelling.

The details on the cause of the crash or casualties are yet to be confirmed.

A separate statement from Abdul Wahid Rayan, a spokesperson for the Taliban’s Information and Culture Ministry, described the plane as “belonging to a Moroccan company”.

Indian civil aviation officials similarly described the aircraft as Moroccan-registered. However, the discrepancy could not be immediately reconciled.

Mr Rayan blamed an “engine problem” for the crash, without elaborating.

International airlines have mostly steered clear of Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover in 2021.

Those that do briefly traverse Afghan airspace hurry through for just a few minutes while passing over the thinly populated Wakhan Corridor in Badakhshan province, the narrow strip that extends eastward between Tajikistan and Pakistan before they resume their onward journey.

Additional reporting with agencies