Russian plane with 44 aboard goes missing

A state-of-the-art Russian Superjet has vanished from radar screens in Indonesia amid speculation it has crashed or been hijacked with 36 foreign nationals on board.

A major air search has begun but darkness has prevented any hope of spotting the jet — if it has crashed — in the mountainous area near Jakarta.

On board the Sukhoi Superjet-100 were eight Russians and 36 foreign nationals.

Lost contact: Relatives of the members aboard the Russian jet grieve after the airline dropped off the grid over Indonesia during a demonstration flight. pics/afp

While there were no immediate details about which countries the foreigners were from, most were believed to be representatives from major airlines.

Indonesian officials said there were two possibilities surrounding the fate of the aircraft — it has either crashed into a mountain or has been hijacked.

The jet had begun its descent towards Jakarta airport after its demonstration flight — part of a six-stop demonstration tour of Asia.

It suddenly vanished from radar screens when it was at an altitude of 6,200 feet over a mountainous area.

Airport officials in Jakarta said it was possible the aircraft had used up all its fuel by the time it was due to return to the airport.

There has been no response from the jet or from anyone on board.

The jet, which arrived in Indonesia on Wednesday, was on its fourth destination after visiting Burma, Pakistan and Kazakhstan.

It was due to continue its demonstration flights in Laos and Vietnam. The Russian plane is described as giving the ‘perfect ride’ for passengers, with four-abreast seat configuration that results in a true business class, providing every passenger with an equal level of comfort.

A website detailing the technical side of the aircraft describes its leading-edge technology which are said to be the core ingredient of the jet. The hi-tech aircraft is a modern, economical, efficient and globally marketable jet.

A military source in Indonesia said it was apparent that the jet had ‘fallen from the sky’.

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