Norway says sunken Russian helicopter wreckage may have been located

29 October, 2017, 03:59 | Author: Katrina Soto
  • Vitaly Nevar  TASS

A desperate search in under way after a Russian helicopter went down in the freezing sea off Svalbard, Norwegian officials said.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centers for northern Norway said the search "has so far produced no results". A search during the night with a remotely operated submarine had yielded no sign of the Russian-made Mil Mi-8 aircraft, dashing earlier hopes that a submerged wreckage had indeed been located.

Several units, including two helicopters from the local Svalbard governor and ships from the coast guard and local fishermen were at the presumed crash site, Bjoergaas said.

The helicopter was flying from the closed settlement of Pyramid to Barentsburg. As of 5.15pm (4.15pm BST) the helicopter has not yet been found.

Its eight occupants, five crew and three scientists, were all Russian nationals.

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Rescue leader Olav Bjørgaas said: "We do not know the nationalities of those on board".

According to the Svalbard Treaty of 1920, the archipelago is under Norwegian sovereignty, but the exercise of sovereignty is subject to certain stipulations and citizens of signatory countries have equal rights to exploit its natural resources.

In March 2008, three people were killed after a Russian Mi-8 helicopter with nine people on board crashed about two miles from Barentsburg. Barentsburg's inhabitants are nearly entirely Russians and Ukrainians.

The helicopter was en route from the mothballed community of Pyramiden to Barentsburg.

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