Helicopter wreck found in Siberia, 6 people still missing

MOSCOW, September 20 (RIA Novosti) - The wreckage of an Mi-8 rescue helicopter that had been missing in northwest Siberia since September 9 has been found, the Federal Air Navigation Service said on Thursday.

Contact with the helicopter was lost a few hours after it took off from the village of Shchuchya, in the Yamalo Nenets Autonomous Area, 50 kilometers (30 miles) from administrative center Salekhard.

The wreckage was discovered on the Yamal Peninsula, the northernmost part of the province. The site of the crash is on the Khanmei mountain, at a height of 1,333 meters (4,400 feet) above sea level, according to the head of the search and rescue department of Russia's Federal Air Navigation Service, Sergei Prusov.

He said the fate of the six people on board - scientists from an aero-geophysics center involved in a geomagnetic research along with crew members - remained unknown, as helicopters are unable to safely land on the mountain to investigate.

The search operation is ongoing.

Crashes of Mi-8 Hip transport helicopters, first introduced to the Soviet Air Force in the late 1960s, are a relatively common occurrence in Russia. Several accidents involving the helicopter have occurred in recent months.

Six people including two Polish tourists died following a crash of an Mi-8 in the Magadan Region in Russia's Far East last Saturday. On Tuesday a Mi-8 helicopter crashed in the Tomsk Region in west Siberia, injuring at least 11 people. An Mi-8 crashed in the Yamalo Nenets Autonomous Area in early July, but all passengers and crew survived. In early July a pilot was killed and another injured when an Mi-8 Russian border guard helicopter crashed near the Estonian border.

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