Russian helicopter crashes in Norway's Arctic waters

"The rescue service in northern Norway is coordinating the rescue operation, details have not been not disclosed", the rescue service said in its Twitter blog.

A Russian helicopter with eight people on board went down into the sea on Thursday about two to three km from Barentsburg, a settlement on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean, Norwegian rescue services said. "We don't know if it was a controlled landing", an emergency services spokesman said.

It was on a short flight to Barentsburg from Pyramiden, a disused Russian mining settlement. It's known for its stunning views of snow-covered mountains, fjords and glaciers.

Russian coal company Arktikugol runs the coal mine at Barentsburg, the main activity, which employs Russian and Ukrainian miners.

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Russia's consul there said five crew and three scientists were on board, all Russians.

Agency spokesman Tore Hongset tells Norwegian news agency NTB they had not received any mayday signal from the helicopter.

"There is poor visibility in the area of the search for a Mi-8 helicopter, which is complicating the search efforts", the source said.

In August 1996, a Russian plane carrying residents of Barentsburg and Pyramiden crashed on approach to the Svalbard Airport, killing all 141 people aboard.

  • Adam Floyd