Up to eight people are missing after a helicopter carrying tourists crashed into a volcanic lake in Russia.
The chopper was flying over the Kronotsky nature reserve on the Kamchatka Peninsula – in the country’s far east – when it went down.
Rescuers have been searching for survivors in Kurile Lake, and the helicopter is reportedly lying at a depth of about 100m (328ft).
A tourist trail near geysers in the Kronotsky nature reserve on the Kamchatka peninsular. File pic
Eight out of 16 people on the flight survived the crash, but two of them were severely injured, according to the state’s RIA Novosti news agency.
However, the Interfax news agency said a total of 17 people – three crew and 14 tourists – were on board. Currently, the nationalities of the tourists are unknown.
The site of the accident can only be reached by helicopters and fog was complicating rescue efforts by several local emergency workers, including three divers.
The Mi-8 helicopter – manufactured during the Soviet era 37 years ago – was operated by Vityaz-Aero, a local private carrier. A director at the company said it was in good shape having recently undergone maintenance.
The model is a two-engine helicopter designed in the 1960s and has been used widely in Russia and ex-Soviet countries.
Regional prosecutors are investigating a possible violation of flight safety rules.
Kamchatka is home to numerous volcanoes and is known for its rugged beauty and wildlife, with the Kronotsky reserve being a major tourist attraction for having Russia’s only geyser basin.
Last month, an An-26 passenger plane crashed on Kamchatka while approaching an airport in bad weather, killing all 28 people on board.