MOSCOW (AFP) - A Russian plane loaded with precious metals lost its glittering cargo on take-off Thursday, scattering the runway with gold and silver.
The Antonov plane was taking off after refuelling in an airport at Yakutsk in Siberia when its cargo door flew open -- and out tumbled nearly 200 bars from the Kupol gold mine in the remote Chukotka region, investigators said.
The cargo of bars of concentrated ore used to transport the precious metals weighed 9.3 tonnes.
"As it gathered height, the cargo door became damaged due to the shifting of cargo" and "part of the cargo was scattered on the runway," Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement on Telegram.
The plane was forced to land back at the airport, and police immediately sealed off the area to prevent locals from rushing to the scene of the rare windfall, Yakutmedia local news site reported.
It posted a video of what looked like large white-ish bricks lying on the runway.
"172 bars have been found weighing around 3.4 tonnes," the local interior ministry told TASS state news agency. "Only part of the gold fell out -- altogether there were around nine tonnes in there."
Kupol mine where the cargo came from is operated by Canada-based mining company Kinross Gold. And apparently none of the valuable cargo is missing,
A Russian spokesman for the company, Stanislav Borodyuk, told Interfax news agency that "all the cargo has been picked up, there are no losses."
He said the bars were Dore, a semi-pure alloy of silver and gold. Investigators say the problem on take-off was likely due to the cargo not being properly stabilised.