Sr. regional officials feared dead in Russia copter crash

Sr. regional officials feared dead in Russia copter crash
Sun Jun 1, 2014 18:24:53

A Russian transport helicopter carrying senior regional officials has crashed in the country’s northwest with most of the occupants feared dead.

The Mil Mi-8 helicopter crashed into a lake in the Murmansk region sometime after losing radio contact with air traffic controllers on Saturday evening, RT reports on Sunday.

Two people have reportedly survived the crash and taken to a hospital after local fishermen on Lake Shoal found them. Divers have so far recovered the bodies of five others from the lake.

The fate of the rest of the victims remains unknown, but there are fears that they have all drowned.

There are conflicting reports on the number of people on board the aircraft at the time of the incident, with estimates varying from between nine and 19. The confusion may be due to the fact that the helicopter made a landing along the route and could have picked up additional passengers.

Police say senior Murmansk region officials, including a deputy governor and a deputy minister, may have been on board the helicopter, as well as the CEO of Apatit, a phosphate refining giant based in the region and some other senior company officials.

Some 100 people are taking part in the search and rescue operation.

Investigators believe that the crash was caused by either a technical failure or a piloting error in bad weather conditions, Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Investigative Committee said.

A crime scene investigation team has been deployed to collect evidence at the crash site, he added.

MB/MB

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