Divers start to recover bodies after plane crash in Russia's far east

Moscow, July 7, (dpa/GNA) - Rescue workers began to recover bodies on Wednesday after a Russian passenger plane crashed in the eastern region of Kamchatka a day earlier, an official said.

There were 28 people on board the Antonov AN-26 aircraft which was flying from the region's capital, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, to the town of Palana.

The authorities presumed all on board had died in the accident near Palana, close to Shelikhov Bay on the Sea of Okhotsk.

The plane crashed as it approached Palana amid fog and rain, according to initial investigations in the region, which is difficult to access.

Kamchatka governor Vladimir Solodov said the victims were recovered from the water with the help of civil defence divers.

It was unclear what caused the crash; beyond weather conditions, investigators were also looking into the possibility of a technical failure or pilot error.

Emergency crews were also trying to recover the flight recorders to explain what had happened, Solodov said.

The plane lost radio contact on Tuesday and hours later, debris was found in the sea and on the cliff, according to a statement from Russia's Pacific Fleet.

A commission including Russian Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev also travelled to the site.

Solodov called for three days of mourning for those who died in the crash.

The authorities offered the families of the 22 passengers and six crew members at least 3.5 million roubles (47,000 dollars) each in compensation for their loss.