Russian helicopter crashes into sea off Norway with eight on board
A Russian helicopter with eight people on board has crashed into the sea off Norway's Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, officials have said.
The rescue service for northern Norway says the helicopter was en route to Barentsburg, Svalbard's second largest settlement, from an abandoned Russian settlement known as Pyramiden.
Svalbard is more than 800km (500 miles) north of Norway's mainland. It's known for its stunning views of snow-covered mountains, fjords and glaciers.
The rescue service said the helicopter went down 2km to 3km (1.3 to 1.9 miles) from Barentsburg.
Rescue service spokesman Tore Hongset told Norwegian news agency NTB it had not received a mayday signal from the helicopter.
Pyramiden is a former coal mining settlement to which Russia acquired the rights some 80 years ago. It features the most northern statue of Vladimir Lenin.
Its inhabitants left in 1998.
The Svalbardposten, the main local newspaper, said the crashed helicopter was a Russian Mil Mi-8. Rescue workers said it was carrying three passengers and five crew.
Several units from the local governor and the coast guard were headed to the presumed crash site and local hospitals were on high alert, news media reported.
In March 2008, three people were killed after a Russian Mi-8 helicopter with nine people on board crashed about 4km (2.5 miles) from Barentsburg.
Independent News Service