MOSCOW, November 1. /TASS/. The hull of Russia’s Mi-8 helicopter, which crashed in the sea off Spitsbergen last week, was almost intact, the press service of the Russian emergencies ministry said.
"A survey of the crash site by Russia’s "Falcon" deep-water drone showed that the hull of the helicopter sustained almost no serious damage," a press service official said. "The aircraft is lying on its rotor."
The Russian emergencies ministry said the crash site was examined as part of preparations to lift the crashed helicopter from the seabed to surface.
The effort involves rescue divers from the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s two leading units - the Tsentrospas State Central Airmobile Rescue Team and the Leader Center for High Risk Rescue Operations, who have already performed several dives lasting 30 minutes in total. In addition, four mobile groups of Norwegian and Russian rescuers are combing the coastline of the Isfjorden fjord. "In total, they have already examined 58 km of the coastline," the ministry said.
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 at 15:04 local time (16:04 Moscow time) on October 26. There were five crew and three employees of the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute on board the helicopter.
On Sunday, the Norwegian side said that the presumable crash site had been traced at a depth of 209 meters in the Barents Sea some two kilometers off Cape Heer. An operation to lift the bodies of victims to surface began shortly after. So far, rescuers managed to locate and lift to surface only one dead body.