Helicopter operated by Russian coal company crashed in Arctic Norway

A Mi-8 helicopter operated by Russian coal company Arktikugol crashed on Thursday with eight people on board into the sea off Svalbard.

According to the rescue service for northern Norway, the helicopter was en route from the Russian settlement of Pyramiden to Barentsburg, where Arktikugol runs a coal mine and which is Svalbard’s second-largest settlement with about 500 residents.

Under a 1920 treaty, Oslo has sovereignty over this Arctic archipelago, which is 500 miles north of Norway’s mainland, yet other +40 signatory countries have rights to exploit its natural resources.

According to the Russian Energy Ministry, there were three passengers on board who were working for the country’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. The other five people, also Russians, were part of the crew.

By publication time, Norwegian rescuers were conducting a search for survivors. They think they have located the sunken wreckage of the aircraft because they have seen oil spills and air bubbles, as well as what seems to be a submerged object. However, poor visibility and heavy snowfall in the region are slowing down their efforts.

According to The Straits Times, a remotely operated mini submarine was being flown to the site and would likely be deployed in the early hours of Friday to help verify whether a discovery had been made.