Arctic research expedition crashed near Bely Island
© RIA Novosti. Grigoriy Sisoev

Arctic research expedition crashed near Bely Island

A light Robinson helicopter carrying members of the Arctic research expedition, ‘In the Footsteps of Two Captains,' has crashed near Bely Island in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area. All three people aboard were killed, TASS news agency reported citing information from the unified emergency services of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area in Western Siberia.

"According to the Main Emergencies Ministry Department for the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area, the three people aboard the helicopter died in a hard landing. They are [MMS CEO and] pilot Mikhail Farikh, [head of the research expedition] Oleg Prodan and [Mirital CEO] Alexei Frolov," the statement says.

TASS has reported that the Russian Investigative Committee has initiated legal proceedings under Part 3 of Article 263 of the Criminal Code of Russia ("violation of air traffic safety and aircraft pilot rules that entail the death of two or more people through negligence"). Investigators are considering several scenarios in the accident including malfunction, human error, and adverse weather conditions.

Loss of communication with the helicopter was reported by the officer on duty at 10:15 pm MSK on April 18. According to the Emergencies Ministry, three helicopters were en route from the Komi Republic to Bely Island when weather conditions suddenly deteriorated. One of the helicopters flew ahead to reconnoiter, while the other two headed for the township of Sabetta. Communication with the first helicopter was then lost.

A group of eight researchers flew from Moscow to the Arctic aboard three light Robinson helicopters on Monday. They were searching for traces of Georgy Brusilov's expedition, which vanished aboard the schooner St. Anna in the Arctic Ocean in 1914. The research expedition was headed by Oleg Prodan, Director of Onezhskoye Pomorye National Park. Prodan earlier told TASS that the helicopters' flight plan included Arkhangelsk, Naryan-Mar, Amderma on the Kara Sea coast, Bely Island, Cape Zhelaniya in the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago, and Alexandra Land in Franz Josef Land. They planned to refuel at the above locations.

"We hope to complete this expedition in 12 or 14 days, given good weather," Prodan told TASS.