The Foreign Ministry Spokesperson’s answer to a media question about the developments around the Russian helicopter crash off Svalbard October 26, 2017
The large search-and-rescue operation launched to find a Mi-8AMT Russian helicopter that crashed off Svalbard on October 26 has been completed. It was conducted by considerable numbers of Russian and Norwegian rescue forces. Now the crash area will be monitored by the resources of the archipelago’s governor. On November 10, Russian rescue workers returned to Russia.
In close cooperation with Norwegian colleagues, Russian rescue workers did everything possible to find the crew and passengers. Over 40 employees of the Russian Emergencies Ministry took part in the operation, including 17 divers with special equipment, the governor’s vessel Polarsyssel, the Coast Guard’s ships Barentshav and Senya, and vessels G.O. Sars and Maersk Forza, the pilot boat of Longyearbyen, a number of private vessels, two aircraft of the Danish and Norwegian armed forces, and two of the governor’s rescue helicopters. Volunteers of the Longyearbyen Red Cross and a mine rescue platoon from Barentsburg were also involved in the operation. They searched 35 square km of the sea bed and over 200 km of the coast line. The most likely crash areas were searched two or three times. A helicopter was used for this purpose among other things.
On November 1, the body of one passenger was found and identified as Maxim Kaulio. He was an employee of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. His body will soon be transported home. Despite all efforts, the bodies of the other seven people have not been found.
The Norwegian authorities, the Interstate Aviation Committee and the Russian Investigative Committee continue to investigate the accident. The voice recorder found on board the lifted helicopter has been delivered to Moscow. Its tapes are now being decoded.
On November 8, a memorial service in honour of the victims was held in the Russian village of Barentsburg. It was attended by Russian Consul General on Svalbard Vyacheslav Nikolayev and Svalbard Governor Kjerstin Askholt. A clergyman of the Russian Orthodox Church conducted a funeral rite. On November 9, wreaths were put in the water at the crash site.
The Foreign Ministry is deeply grateful to our colleagues in the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and other state agencies for their close cooperation in this difficult situation.