COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Poor visibility caused a Russian helicopter to crash into the Arctic Ocean Ocean with eight people on board who all perished, Norwegian accident investigators reported Thursday.
The October 2017 crash took place off Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago that belongs to Norway. The body of one victim was recovered from the seabed about 150 meters (yards) from the wreck, but the others never were found.
The Mi-8 helicopter belonged to Russian coal company Arktikugol and was operated by charter company Konvers Avia. The Accident Investigation Board Norway concluded there was no indication that mechanical problems made the helicopter go down.
“The accident was caused by loss of visual references during the last part of the approach,” the report stated.
The Norwegian investigators noted that the helicopter “was not equipped with neither life raft nor emergency float equipment. It was quickly filled with water due to damage caused by the impact, and probably tipped around quickly before it sank.”
Svalbard is more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of Norway’s mainland. The helicopter was en route to Barentsburg, a Russian coal-mining town of about 500 people that is the archipelago’s second-largest settlement.
Under a 1920 treaty, Norway has sovereignty over the archipelago but other signatory countries have rights to its natural resources.