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Russian rescuers fly to Norway for missing helicopter search

October 29, 0:44 UTC+3 MOSCOW

An Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft of the Russian Emergencies Ministry has taken off from Ramenskoye airfield near Moscow, carrying 40 rescuers

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MOSCOW, October 28. /TASS/. Rescuers of the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations have flown to Norway to help in a search and rescue operation for the Russian Mi-8 helicopter that had gone missing off the coast of Svalbard Island, the ministry’s press service told TASS on Saturday.

"An Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft of the Russian Emergencies Ministry has taken off from Ramenskoye airfield near Moscow, carrying 40 rescuers of the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s two leading units - the Tsentrospas State Central Airmobile Rescue Team and the Leader Center for High Risk Rescue Operations," the official said. "Among them are 17 divers licensed to conduct search and rescue operations at great depths."

The Il-76 will deliver cutting-edge equipment to the search area. The equipment will include two small-sized remotely operated underwater vehicles used for search operations in costal or inland waters. The rescuers are equipped with compressors, motor boats of unique class and diving apparatuses for examining underwater objects.

"With the help of an underwater system incorporating side-scan sonars, a hydro acoustic position reference system and a remotely operated vehicle, the emergencies ministry’s specialists are capable of examining underwater objects at a depth of up to 300 meters," he said. "It [the system] facilitates descents when underwater work is carried out in difficult conditions."

On October 26, a helicopter of the Conversavia airline, carrying eight people, was en route from the mothballed community of Pyramiden to Barentsburg when radar contact with the aircraft was lost. At 15:35 local time (16:35 Moscow time), a call alerted the rescue center that the helicopter had gone missing.

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. An investigation was opened by the North-Western Investigative Department on Transport Safety of the Russian Investigative Committee.

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