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MOSCOW, June 01, /ITAR-TASS/. Regional high-ranking officials, including Deputy Governor of northern Russia’s Murmansk Region Sergey Skomarokhov and Director-General of world’s largest high-grade phosphate ore producer Apatit Aleksey Grigoryev were abroad a helicopter Mil Mi-8 that crashed in Murmansk Region, regional law enforcement agencies told Itar-Tass on Sunday.
“Along with them the helicopter could have been carrying the Murmansk regional minister of natural resources, the regional deputy minister of natural resources, the director of the Forestry Department in the North-Western Federal District and the chief of the Kirovsk city authorities,” the source said.
Two people survived in the crash and were taken to hospital with different injuries. “They are the chief doctor of a company and the deputy director for regional development at the St. Petersburg Forest Economy Institute,” the source said.
Meanwhile, nine people were staying aboard the crashed helicopter at the moment of departure, a territorial branch of the Federal Air Transport Agency told Itar-Tass.
The helicopter was on the way to a landing site at Kanozero from the Murmansk regional town of Apatity, a source in the agency noted. On its route the aircraft was to make a stopover at landing site Pyatka, but the crew did not reported about arrival there.
An emergency helicopter was dispatched for the search of the missing helicopter at 10pm Moscow time (7pm BST) on Saturday, but failed to continue the operation over worse weather.
Meanwhile, the bad weather could have caused the crash of the helicopter, the law enforcement source said.
“According to preliminary reports, the bad weather could have caused the crash of the helicopter. A pilot error in hard weather conditions is also not ruled out,” the source said, noting that low thick clouds, rain and fog had been observed during the flight.
Meanwhile, according to preliminary reports, the helicopter Mi-8 with high-placed officials on board was flying in the nighttime. “All these factors and possible pilot error could have caused the crash of the helicopter that fell down in the lake,” the source said.
The helicopter crashed 400 kilometres away from the city of Murmansk. “This is a hard-to-reach district. It is difficult to get there due to the lack of roads,” the Murmansk regional emergency situation department told Itar-Tass. Meanwhile, there is no cellular phone communication in this district.
The helicopter “could have been carrying up to 19 people, including five crewmembers and 14 passengers,” the press service of the regional police department reported earlier in the day.