Russian helicopter with 8 on board goes down at sea near Norway's Svalbard

Published 26.10.2017 17:12
Updated 26.10.2017 18:57

A Russian helicopter with 8 people on board has gone down at sea 2-3 kilometers off the Arctic port of Barentsburg in Svalbard, Norway's rescue service said Thursday.

It was not immediately clear if the helicopter had crashed or if there were any injuries.

Agency spokesman Tore Hongset tells Norwegian news agency NTB they had not received any mayday signal from the helicopter.

The helicopter was on its way from the Pyramiden settlement to the coal mining port of Barentsburg, but was later confirmed to have gone down in the ocean.

The aircraft was a Russian Mili Mi-8 helicopter belonging to Russian charter company Konvers Avia.

Russian state news agencies Tass and RIA Novosti cited company deputy director Dmitry Zhelyazkov as saying there were eight people aboard — three pilots and five passengers.

"As far as we have heard, we are talking about a crash," spokesperson Tore Hongset said

In March 2008, three people were killed after a Russian Mi-8 helicopter with nine people on board crashed about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from Barentsburg.

Svalbard is more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of Norway's mainland. It's known for its stunning views of snow-covered mountains, fjords and glaciers.

Svalbard is governed under a 1920 treaty giving Norway sovereignty, but allowing all nations that sign the treaty to do business there and to exploit its natural resources. There are now more than 40 countries that are party to the treaty.

Russian coal company Arktikugol runs the coal mine at Barentsburg, the main activity, which employs Russian and Ukrainian miners.

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