MOSCOW, November 10. /TASS/. Moscow expresses gratitude to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and other government agencies for their assistance in the search operation following the crash of a Russian Mi-8 helicopter off Spitsbergen, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday.
"The large-scale search operation after the October 26 crash of the Russian Mi-8 helicopter off Spitsbergen, which involved Russian and Norwegian rescuers, is over. Further on, the area will be monitored with the use of resources the archipelago’s governor has," she said, adding that Russian rescuers had returned to Moscow earlier on Friday.
"The Russian Foreign Ministry conveys sincere gratitude to the colleagues from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and other Norwegian government agencies for close cooperation in this difficult situation," she noted. "Everything possible has been done in close cooperation with Norwegian colleagues to find the helicopter’s missing crew members and passengers."
Rescuers have found only one body. It was the helicopter’s passenger Maxim Kaulio, an employee of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. "His body will soon be taken to Russia," Zakharova said. "Regrettably, the bodies of the rest seven people have not been found, despite all the efforts."
"The Norwegian authorities, the Interstate Aviation Committee and Russia’s Investigative Committee continue probe into the accident. The helicopter’s cockpit voice recorder has been taken to Moscow. It is being decoded," she said.
On October 26, a helicopter of the Conversavia airline, carrying eight people, was en route from the mothballed community of Pyramiden to Barentsburg when contact with the aircraft was lost. 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.
More than 40 Russian rescuers joined the search operation in early hours of October 29. On the same day, the crashed helicopter was spotted at a depth of 209 meters in the Barents Sea some two kilometers off Cape Heer.
According to Norwegian authorities, one body was found on October 30, some 130 meters away from the crashed helicopter. Overnight to Saturday, November 4, the helicopter was lifted from the seabed, but no bodies were found inside.