All six crew members on board a Russian transport plane died when it crashed earlier outside the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk, local officials said on Thursday.

The wreckage was discovered by a search team after it disappeared from radars on Wednesday evening.

Photos from the scene showed debris from the Antonov An-26 transport aircraft scattered across broken tree branches.

“All members of the crew died. We extend our condolences to the families,” the Khabarovsk branch of the health ministry said in a statement.

Antonov planes were manufactured during the Soviet era and are still used throughout the former Soviet Union for civilian and military transport.

They have been involved in a number of accidents in recent years.

Investigators said remnants of the plane were discovered on a ridge in the Bolshekhekhtsirsky Nature Reserve, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Khabarovsk.

They said they were now looking into the cause of the crash.

The emergencies ministry said it had taken more than five hours to reach the remote crash site.

Once notorious for plane accidents, Russia’s major airlines have shifted from ageing Soviet aircraft to more modern planes.

But poor aircraft maintenance and lax safety standards persist, and the country has recently seen several deadly air accidents.

In July, an An-26 flying over the Far Eastern Kamchatka peninsula crashed, killing all 28 people on board.

A month later, a Mi-8 helicopter carrying 16 tourists and crew on a sightseeing trip in Kamchatka crashed into a lake, killing eight people.

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