By the order of the RF President the crew of the Emergency Ministry Ilyushin Il-76 heavy plane killed in the line of duty have been awarded Orders of Courage posthumously for courage, valor and selflessness displayed under extreme conditions. The orders were awarded to: the captain of the plane Leonid Filin, second pilot Alksei Lebedev, navigator Georgy Petrov, engineer Viktor Kuznetsov, radio operator Igor Murakhin, controllers Sergei Susov, Sergei Makarov and Marat Khadayev, aircraft technicians Vadim Zhdanov and Andrei Mashninov.
On that tragic day of 1 July, the plane was putting out a wildfire in Kachug District, Irkutsk Region that threatened to spread onto the settlement of Karam and energy and transport infrastructure. The crew who was on their second flight that day, failed to contact on time. The plane was carrying 10 people.
It took two days to find the missing plane because of complex relief of the area, thick smoke from wildfires and fog. It was finally found on 3 July at about 2 AM Moscow time in Kachug District 9 km to the southeast from the settlement of Rybny Uyan on the slope of one of volcanoes. The plane was found by one of ground groups of rescuers of the Tsentrospas team together with workers of Abialesokhrana in the sector which was determined as the possible place of the crash. The plane was almost completely destroyed.
The crew had carried out 33 flights while working in Siberian Federal District since the fire season had begun. The plane was equipped with a water-bombing device to drop water on wildfires.
The crew put out seven large wildfires in Irkutsk Region and protected 30 settlements populated by over 50,000 people. That was not the first time the crew had been working in Irkutsk Region, last year they suppressed wildfires around Lake Baikal.
Earlier, Minister of Emergency Situations Vladimir Puchkov ordered that nominations of the Il-76 crew for state awards should be prepared.
According to him, professionalism, courage, selflessness displayed by the crew who protected people’s lives and their homes deserve the highest award and will always live in the memory of Russian people as a model of dedication to rescuing.
Speaking at the funerals, the Minister stressed that “they fought to protect people and their homes against a wall of fire and did their duty to till the end.”
The Minister also ordered that each family of the killed pilot should be taken under constant patronage and helped with housing and other social problems.