Russian helicopter carrying nine crashes in Siberia
MOSCOW - Agence France-PresseA Russian helicopter carrying nine people including senior rescue service officials as well as almost two tonnes of explosives has crashed in the Irkutsk region of southern Siberia, regional officials said Monday.
"The remains of the missing helicopter were found at 1930 local time (1030 GMT) six kilometres from the village of Preobrazhenka," the Irkutsk regional emergency situations ministry said in a statement.
"There were nine people on board," it said, listing the region's acting emergency situations chief, Stanislav Omelyanchik, among those missing along with five other rescue officials and three crew.
The helicopter took off from the nearest village Preobrazhenka and was bound for the Nizhnyaya Tunguska river when it stopped responding, the ministry said on its website. The region's deputy emergency minister Valentin Nelyubov told the RIA Novosti news agency that the helicopter was carrying 1.9 tonnes of explosives for breaking up ice blocking the river.
The Preobrazhenka village had been in a state of emergency as water level rose almost nine metres (30 feet) after the ice blocked the water flow and 125 homes were flooded, the regional government said earlier.
The helicopter had flown out to take part in a flood rescue operation near the village in the north of the vast Irkutsk region, which is around 5,000 kilometres (3,000 miles) from Moscow.
The wreckage was discovered around 4 1/2 hours after the aircraft disappeared from the radar.
The multifunctional Russian-made Mi-8 helicopter is used by the military and by UN peacekeepers.
The crash took place a day after hunters located the wreckage of a small plane that crashed killing all 13 aboard in June last year, but had gone undiscovered for 11 months in an impassable bog in the Urals region.