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Russian helicopter missing in Arctic found on seabed, eight presumed dead: rescuers

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Russian helicopter missing in Arctic found on seabed, eight presumed dead: rescuers
Photo: NTB scanpix
10:29 CET+01:00
A Russian helicopter that went down at sea with eight people on board has been found on the seabed off Norway's Svalbard archipelago, rescue crews said on Sunday.

"The wreck of the Russian helicopter has been located... northeast of Heerodden, at a depth of 209 metres (686 feet). The search has now concluded, and has moved into a search phase for the presumed dead," the rescue services said in a statement.

Search teams had been in the area since Thursday, including a small robot submarine, helicopters, and several vessels. 

The aircraft, a Russian Mil Mi-8, went down on Thursday afternoon two or three kilometres from Barentsburg, a Russian mining community in the archipelago.

Its eight occupants, five crew and three scientists, were all Russian nationals.

No contact had been made with the chopper before it went down or immediately after it was reported down.

Norway was afforded sovereignty of Svalbard, located around 1,000 kilometres from the North Pole, under the 1920 Treaty of Paris.

Nationals of all signatory states enjoy "equal liberty of access and entry" to Svalbard and its waters.

As a result, Russia operates a coal mine in Barentsburg, a community home to several hundred Russian and Ukrainian miners.

In 2008, another Mil Mi-8 crashed near Barentsburg, killing three of its nine occupants. Yet another crash near Pyramiden of the same type of helicopter left two dead in 1991.

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