A private jet involved in a medical evacuation from Thailand to Russia reportedly disappeared from radar screens and crashed in a remote, mountainous area of northeastern Afghanistan. Russian aviation authorities disclosed that the charter ambulance flight, with two passengers and four crew members, was en route from Utapao airport near Pattaya to Moscow via India and Uzbekistan.
The crash site, located about 150 miles northeast of Kabul in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province, was reached by rescuers who found four survivors among the six individuals on board.
Russia’s federal air transport agency stated that the survivors had various injuries, and the fate of the remaining two people was being clarified. The Taliban’s transportation and civil aviation ministry confirmed the discovery of the plane and survivors, adding that efforts were ongoing to locate and assist any remaining individuals. The passengers on the flight were identified as a Russian couple from Volgodonsk in southern Russia, with reports suggesting the aircraft carried a Russian woman in serious condition from a hospital in Pattaya to Russia.
According to tracking data from FlightRadar24, the jet, a Russian-registered Dassault Aviation Falcon 10 manufactured in 1978, last appeared in the south of Peshawar, Pakistan on Saturday. The pilot had reportedly alerted about low fuel and intended to land in Tajikistan before both engines failed, leading to the plane’s disappearance from radar screens.
The Afghan aviation ministry, under Taliban control, is investigating the incident and asserted that the plane’s planned route did not include passing through Afghan airspace. The deviation from the intended route was attributed to potential technical issues. Russia’s investigative committee has opened a criminal case to determine whether safety rules were violated.
The plane’s owner, Athletic Group LLC, a small Russian company, has not yet responded to requests for comments. It is noteworthy that international carriers have largely avoided Afghan airspace since the Taliban’s takeover in 2021. Those that do traverse Afghan airspace often take a brief route over Badakhshan province’s Wakhan corridor, minimizing their time in Afghan skies. The incident underscores the challenges of aviation in the region, prompting investigations and raising concerns about safety and adherence to flight plans in conflict-prone areas.