OSLO, October 27. /TASS/. A large object was located on seabed off the Spitsbergen Island in the Arctic, where the search continues for a missing Mi-8 helicopter, rescue coordination center chief Tore Hongset told TASS on Thursday.
The object was detected by a rescue vessel sonar at the depth of about 200-250 meters.
"A place where the smell of the spilled fuel is the strongest and where air bubbles are seen rising from the seabed was found in the search zone. A sonar of one of the vessels shows that a large object is lying on the seabed. This may indicate that the helicopter or a big fragment of it are lying there. At the same time, this theory can be confirmed only after an underwater drone studies the area," he said, adding that the drone will be flown to the site within the next few hours.
A helicopter of the Conversavia airline, carrying eight people, was en route from the mothballed community of Pyramiden to Barentsburg when communication with the aircraft was lost at 15:04 local time (16:04 Moscow time). The Norwegian rescue coordination center was informed shortly after, and a rescue operation bagan, involving two helicopters and several vessels.
There were five crew and three employees of the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute on board the helicopter. It was in a proper technical condition and underwent maintenance before the flight, Conversavia said.
All passengers and crew of the helicopter are listed as missing. Norwegian rescuers told TASS there were chances to find Russians alive on condition they have survival means. The water temperature in the area is about zero.