Helicopter smash in Siberia kills 18 people

Helicopter smash in Siberia kills 18 people

The Investigative Committee of Russia has opened a probe into a Russian airline's Mi-8 helicopter crash Saturday in Siberia that killed all 18 people aboard.

"There were three crew members and 15 passengers overseas the Mi-8 that belonged to Utair airline", an emergency services official told TASS news agency.

The second helicopter had no passengers on board and managed to land safely.

State oil company Rosneft said the passengers were employees of its subsidiary RN Vankor, and contract workers.

Such incidents are common in Siberia and eastern Russian Federation, where helicopters are required to cover vast distances.

"A Mi-8 helicopter which was carrying external suspended cargo and no passengers completed take-off first".

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In a statement issued on its website, Utair said the crash took place at 05:43 Moscow time (0243 GMT) after taking off from a helipad at the Vankor oil and gas field, in the Turuhansk district of the Krasnoyarsk region. "According to preliminary information, the Mi-8 carrying passengers, for reasons unknown, collided with the external suspension of the second helicopter after take-off".

The ministry added that it had set up a commission to investigate the crash.

The helicopters' black boxes were recovered, appear undamaged, and will be sent to Moscow as part of the investigation, TASS reported.

Both aircraft belong to Russian national airline Utair.

Among those killed were three members of the crew, with the other 15 believed to have been oil workers.

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