HELSINKI (AP) — Norwegian rescue officials said Sunday the wreckage of a Russian helicopter that crashed with eight people onboard off the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard has been located on the seabed.
The Joint Rescue Coordination Center for northern Norway said that the Mi-8 helicopter, which went down Thursday near the Svalbard settlement of Barentsburg, is around two kilometers (one mile) east of Cape Heer at a depth of nearly 210 meters (about 685 feet).
A Norwegian remote-controlled submarine was involved in the search, which will now focus on the chopper’s passengers.
Russian authorities said earlier that the helicopter belonged to Russian coal company Arktikugol but was operated by charter company Konvers Avia.
Yevgeny Saidov, head of the Russian emergencies ministry’s special group at the site, told news agency TASS that Russian remotely controlled underwater vehicles would join the operation to survey the Mi-8 crash site.
The helicopter had been en route to Barentsburg, a coal-mining town of about 500 people, from the Russian settlement of Pyramiden, carrying five crew members and three staff members from Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.
Under an international 1920 treaty, Norway has sovereignty over Svalbard, which is 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of its mainland. Other signatory countries of the treaty have rights to exploit its natural resources at the archipelago, known also with its earlier name Spitzbergen.