Eighteen people died in Russia on Saturday morning when a helicopter crashed on its way to an oil station in the north Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk, local television network RT reported.
The Mi-8 helicopter, operated by Russia’s national airline Utair, was carrying three crew members and 15 passengers, the country’s transport ministry said. Soon after take-off, the helicopter collided with the outside cargo that another helicopter was carrying, officials said, adding that the second helicopter landed safely after ditching its cargo.
Utair said the accident occurred at 5.43 am Moscow time (8.13 am Indian time) near the Vankor oil and gas field in Krasnoyarsk’s Turuhansk district. It added that the helicopter was manufactured in Russia in 2010, and the pilot had flown nearly 6,000 hours.
“The first take-off was carried out by a Mi-8 with an external cargo suspension without passengers on board, the second take-off was performed with passengers who were workers on shifts at the oil station,” the ministry said in a statement, according to AFP. “According to preliminary information, the Mi-8 carrying passengers, for reasons unknown, collided with the external suspension of the second helicopter after take-off. As a result it fell, was destroyed and burned.”
The Russian government has set up a commission and begun investigations into the air crash.