MOSCOW: A Russian firefighting plane with 10 people on board went missing Friday as it was battling forest blazes in Siberia, authorities said.
"Today at 0630 (0330 GMT) an Il-76 of the emergency services failed to make contact," a statement from the emergency services ministry said, adding that a crew of 10 people were on board.
The statement said search-and-rescue teams including five planes and two helicopters had been dispatched to the area and 100 rescuers were gearing up to fly out from near Moscow.
State-run TASS news agency said the plane took off at around 0230 GMT and was flying at an altitude of around 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) in the Irkutsk region when it disappeared.
A source in the emergency services told TASS that the plane had vanished in "a hard to reach location, where there was heavy smoke because of the fire".
Russia is hit by huge forest blazes each year and authorities said about 3,300 firefighters are currently battling to put out an area of around 39,000 hectares (96,000 acres) across the country.