Badakhshan province
The mountainous Badakhshan province where the plane reportedly crashed. Image/tajikam, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

A Moscow-bound Russian chartered flight carrying six people crashed in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan on Sunday, according to the Russian aviation watchdog.

The plane was a chartered ambulance flight from India via Uzbekistan to Zhukovsky International Airport in Moscow. Two passengers, along with four crew members, were on board when the incident occurred. It took place overnight in a remote mountainous region near the Zebak district of the province.

However, India's Civil Aviation Ministry in a statement clarified that the aircraft was "neither an Indian Scheduled Aircraft nor a Non-Scheduled (NSOP)/Charter aircraft".

The plane, a French-made Dassault Falcon 10 jet made in 1978, was owned by Athletic Group LLC and a private individual. According to Russian news agency SHOT, the pilot had warned that the plane was running low on fuel before it disappeared from the radar. He had also reportedly stated that the plane would try to land in Tajikistan.

Meanwhile, the Taliban administration's top spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, has claimed that four people, including the pilot, have survived the crash. The condition of the other two people on board still remains unclear.

"The investigative team of the Islamic Emirate continues their efforts to search for and provide assistance to the remaining individuals," Reuters quoted the spokesperson as saying. Russian authorities have not issued any statement giving any updates about the passengers.

But a Russian news agency, RIA Novosti, has claimed that the passengers were Russians, including a seriously ill person and their spouse. "On board was a bedridden patient in serious condition, a Russian citizen, who was transported from one of the hospitals in Pattaya to Russia," the RIA news agency reported.

"She was accompanied by her husband, a private entrepreneur, also a Russian citizen, who paid for the flight". Pattaya, a city in Thailand is a popular tourist destination for Russians.

According to local media reports, the couple came from Volgodonsk, in southern Russia. Russian authorities have decided to initiate an investigation into the incident. The Taliban-run Afghan aviation ministry is also investigating the incident.

All international airlines had stopped flights to Afghanistan after the Taliban took over the country in 2021. Air travel is gradually resuming, with airlines like Air Arabia and FlyDubai resuming flights to Kabul. However, several international airlines have mostly stayed away from traversing Afghanistan's airspace.

The ones that do travel from Afghanistan pass through the thinly populated Wakhan Corridor in Badakhshan province. Two Afghan airlines, Kam Air and Ariana Afghan Airlines, also operate flights from Kabul to Islamabad, Istanbul, Dubai, and Moscow.