PYATIGORSK, March 16 (RIA Novosti) – A military helicopter crashed in the Russian republic of Chechnya on early Saturday, killing three of four people on board, a law enforcement official told RIA Novosti.
The incident is tentatively blamed on heavy fog in the vicinity of the Khankala military base and not terrorist activity in the once-volatile North Caucasus republic, the official said on condition of anonymity.
Only crew members were on board of the Mi-8 helicopter at the time of the crash, the unnamed official said, adding that the surviving pilot was hospitalized. A check was ongoing.
This is the second helicopter-related incident in Russia in as many days. On Friday, another Mi-8 hit the ground with its rotor blade in the city of Khabarovsk in the Far East, crashing on launch. No one was injured, but the crew faces up to seven years behind bars for violation of flight rules, local investigators said.
Chechnya used to be a hotbed of Islamic insurgency in the North Caucasus since the 1990s, but the rebels were mostly forced out to neighboring regions in recent years by the ironfisted local government.