15 Jun 2012

Plane full of drinkers missing

12:50 pm on 15 June 2012

A search is underway in Russia for a group of police officers who took off in a light plane without permission on Monday night and have not been seen since.

Russian media report the group had been drinking alcohol before they boarded the Antonov 2 biplane, which was being used to spot forest fires.

Their cars were left at the aerodrome outside the town of Serov, a town of nearly 100,000 people. They had flown there from the city of Orenburg.

Between nine and 13 people are said to be on the plane, including the town's chief of traffic police.

They took off at 11pm on Monday. The co-pilot and mechanic discovered the plane was missing after returning from a visit to the town.

The plane is not fitted with radio and the pilot's mobile phone has not been answering.

Initial reports said 12 people were aboard the missing plane along with the pilot but later reports said the number may have been eight.