Three Scientists Were Among 8 People Aboard Helicopter Crashed Off Spitsbergen

Adjust Comment Print

A Russian helicopter carrying eight people has gone down Thursday off the coast of Norway's Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, according to the Swedish state television SVT.

The Russian helicopter smashed into the sea at 3.30pm local time (2.30pm UK) near the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. "Their fate is unknown", the emergencies services said. The Norwegian rescue center's northern branch is coordinating a search and rescue operation. He added that there was poor visibility and heavy snowfall in the region.

Tore Hongset, another spokesman for the rescue co-ordination centre, told Norwegian news agency NTB that it did not receive any mayday signal from the helicopter.

A rescue helicopter and a frigate were rushed to the site.

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

Norway was afforded sovereignty of Svalbard, located around 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from the North Pole, under the 1920 Treaty of Paris.

It is home to about 500 people, nearly entirely Russians and Ukrainians.

"It's a civilian helicopter that belongs to the Arktikugol company and it flies the miners between (Svalbard's main town of) Longyearbyen and Barentsburg".