Active phase of Mi-8 helicopter search mission ends today
© RIA Novosti. Sergey Mamontov

Active phase of Mi-8 helicopter search mission ends today

Although an active phase of a large-scale mission to locate seven people missing after a Russian Mil Mi-8 helicopter crashed near Svalbard (Spitsbergen) Archipelago will end on Thursday, the search will continue on a smaller scale, according to the website of the Archipelago's Governor, Kjerstin Askholt.

A Konvers Avia Mi-8 helicopter carrying five crew members and three employees of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute disappeared on October 26 while flying from the mothballed town of Pyramiden to Barentsburg. Over 40 rescue workers from the Russian Emergencies Ministry joined the search during the early hours of October 29. A Norwegian vessel located the helicopter two kilometers northeast of Cape Heer. On October 30, one body was found 130 meters from the crash site.

Earlier, a spokesperson for the Interstate Aviation Committee told RIA Novosti that experts had started deciphering the helicopter's flight recorder. Experts also located severely damaged components of the helicopter's parametric data recorder, but its data-storage module is still missing.

"The Archipelago's governor is ending the active phase of the search for the helicopter's deceased crew and passengers as of Thursday. We are recalling substantial resources but we will continue to search the surrounding area using our own resources," Ms Askholt's message notes.

The decision was made together with the Russian rescuers. The end of the active phase means that rescue equipment and a large-capacity vessel involved in rescuing the helicopter will leave the search area. Everything possible has been done to locate the crew members, the governor noted.

During the search, both Norwegian and Russian rescue teams as well as volunteers examined 35 square kilometers of the seabed plus about 200 kilometers of the shoreline.