Russian Federation: 8 feared dead after helicopter crashes into sea

Helicopter in Barentsburg

Helicopter in Barentsburg

A Russian helicopter with eight people on board went down into the sea on Thursday about two to three km from Barentsburg, a settlement on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean, Norwegian rescue services said.

The nationalities of the eight people on board are also unknown so far.

"We have found oil on the water but no wreck", said Olav Bjoergaas, a spokesman for the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centres for northern Norway.

"There is poor visibility in the area of the search for a Mi-8 helicopter, which is complicating the search efforts", the source said.

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Snow conditions were reported in the region at the time of the crash.

The helicopter was reportedly a Mil Mi-8, but there has been no official confirmation yet.

Norway has sovereignty over Svalbard but Russian Federation has a small coal-mining community in Barentsburg. "It's a regular flight", he said.

"We are physically looking for the helicopter". "But whether it crashed or not, I can't say", he said.

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The aircraft was confirmed to have come down about 10 minutes later, rescue services said.

Under the Svalbard Treaty signed in 1920, Norway was granted the full sovereignty over the group of islands, however, all countries that signed the Treaty are granted non-discriminatory rights for commercial activities on the territory.

Barentsburg is a small mining settlement on the Arctic Svalbard archipelago, with around 500 inhabitants, predominantly Russian.

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