Roughly three tons of gold-silver bars came loose from their cargo plane and rained from the sky during a routine takeoff from a Russian airport. The precious cargo littered the runway and the surrounding area and was estimated to be worth roughly $368 million. The gold and silver alloy bars belonged to Canadian mining company Kinross Gold.
The cargo plane was taking off from the Yakutsk airport in Siberia and was carrying about nine tons of the gold-silver bars. However, during takeoff, the cargo door ripped open and spilled roughly a third of the contents inside. According to Russian news agency TASS, the ground crew at the airport may not have secured the cargo properly.
A spokesman for the transport police told TASS that in total, there were 172 gold bars scattered across the runway, and some may have fallen as far as 26 kilometers away from the airport. While the police spokesperson told TASS that all of the gold-silver bars have been recovered from the runway, the Siberian Times reported that search efforts are still underway in the surrounding area.
While the AN-12 cargo plane was carrying bars of doré, a gold, and silver alloy, the cargo also contained platinum and diamonds. It was headed for Krasnoyarsk and then back to the Kupol Goldmine in the Bilibinsky District. Each of the gold-silver bars weighed roughly 44 pounds. Despite the heavy bars plummeting to the airport runway, no injuries were reported.
There was also no structural damage reported, as the gold-silver bars appeared to have missed all vehicles and structures in the surrounding area. According to the Siberian Times, the airport technicians who were in charge of securing the cargo on the plane have been detained. Images from the airport show the runway riddled with gold-silver bars that fell from the sky.
According to the Siberian Times, the precious cargo was owned by the Chukotka Mining and Geological Company, of which the Canadian mining company Kinross Gold owns 75%. Representatives from Kinross Gold did not provide any statements about the accident to the press. Kinross Gold owns 100% of the Kupol Gold Mine, where the bars came from.
Despite being one of the poorest regions in Russia, the city of Yakutsk is a major supplier of diamonds. As it is located just south of the Arctic circle, it is also the second coldest major city in the world. The Yakutsk airport is its major transportation hub, and Yakutia Airlines has its headquarters within the city.
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