18 killed in Russian helicopter crash in northern Siberia
Russia today said 18 people were killed when a helicopter crashed on its way to an oil station in northern Siberia early today. The Russian Transport Ministry said the Mi-8 helicopter, carrying three crew members and 15 passengers, crashed when it collided with machinery carried by another helicopter soon after take-off. It added that the second helicopter landed safely. Here's more.
"The first take-off was carried out by a Mi-8 helicopter with an external cargo suspension without passengers on board, the second take-off was performed with passengers who were workers on shifts at the oil station," the Ministry said.
"According to preliminary information, the Mi-8 carrying passengers for reasons unknown collided with the external suspension of the second helicopter after take-off. As a result, it fell, was destroyed and burned," the Ministry said. "Three crew members and 15 passengers died," it said. The helicopter was operated by Russian national airline Utair, which has its head office in Khanty Mansiysk airport in western Siberia.
Utair said the crash took place at 05:43 Moscow time (0243 GMT) after taking off from a helipad at the Vankor oil and gas field, in the Turuhansk district of the Krasnoyarsk region. The oil field is operated by Russian national oil company Rosneft through its subsidiary Vankorneft. Utair said the helicopter was made in Russia in 2010.
Utair said that the deceased pilot was born in 1985 and was trained at the Omsk Aviation School in southwestern Siberia. "He flew 5,990 hours, 2,300 of which he was the helicopter commander," the airline said.
The Russian airline said it sent its specialists to the site of the crash. The Russian Transport Ministry said it constituted a commission to investigate the crash and that the Vice Director of the Federal Air Transport Agency was on his way to the site. The country's Investigative Committee said it opened a criminal investigation into the crash.
Accidents involving helicopters and small planes are frequent in Siberia and far eastern Russia. In April, a Mi-8 helicopter crashed in far eastern Russia, killing six people. In November 2017, six people died when a small plane crash-landed in the Khabarovsk region. In 2016, 19 people died when a Mi-8 helicopter carrying oil and gas field workers crashed in a remote area of Siberia.