According to a statement by the Ministry of Emergency Situations in Russia, the incident occurred during the early hours of Sunday after the Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane crashed in the Siberian region of Irkutsk, where a wildfire has been raging for weeks.
“During the search mission, body fragments and one of two black boxes have been found at the site of the Il-76 crash site in a remote area of the Irkutsk Region,” the headquarters said.
Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency confirmed the incident and said six bodies had been found at the scene of the crash.
The fire fighters were struggling to control forest fires in the region after hundreds of hectares were burnt earlier last month.
RIA Novosti said the death toll could rise as it is believed that there were 10 people on board the plane, but efforts to find the rest of the bodies were hampered due to smoke and the rough terrain.
A source with the Russian aviation agency told RIA Novosti that the cause of the incident could have been the loss of control due to hot air generated from the huge fire.
“It’s possible that hot air from the wildfires got into the engines, the plane lost propulsion and could not gain altitude, hit the top of the trees and fell,” the source was quoted as saying.
Last year, a wildfire around the Irkutsk region caused huge ecological damage, with local authorities estimating that about 400,000 hectares of forest were lost.