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'Rescue chiefs took smartphone pictures of Mi-8 crash victims instead of saving them'

02 December 2015

Outspoken account of 'chaos and incompetence' after helicopter went down in Arctic, with 12 dead and 13 injured.

It flew not more than two kilometres in a straight line, which took less than a minute, and the collapsed on the Yenisei River. Picture: REUTERS

A devastating first hand account has come from one of the first locals to reach the stricken Mi-8 - with oil workers on board - which crashed onto the frozen Yenisei River in Krasnoyarsk region.

Nikolay Anosov, 60, a resident of Igarka, tells how he plucked groaning victims from the wreckage after he failed to get through to the emergency services by phone, and called a local TV station to raise the alarm instead.

We print his shocking testimony - a cry from the soul - as he told it to newspaper Krasoyarsky Rabochiy.

'The entire story - in chronological order. At approximately 11.30 am on 26 November, an Mi-8 helicopter, with oil workers on board took off from the airport of Igarka. It flew not more than two kilometres in a straight line, which took less than a minute, and the collapsed on the Yenisei River. Visibility during the rise and fall was disgusting, there was heavy snow.

'At 11.45 am, I went to the bank of the Yenisei River and saw on the ice a dark silhouette of an unknown object. The distance to it was 800-900 meters. I saw just two people around. After thinking what it could be, and without understanding, as the visibility was awful, I could not do anything better than go home for my binoculars.

'After I came back, I was able to see clearly that it was a crashed helicopter, the sound of which I had heard 20 minutes ago. Reaching home, I began to call to all the emergency services of the town - at least five times. Realising that it was useless, I called our local television - MTK Igarka - and told journalist Nadezhda Chesnokova about the disaster. 

Crash site


Crash site


Crash site

'All the rescue managers arriving at the site did not rush to save the people. They just took pictures on their smartphones and probably passed information to their superiors. Pictures: REUTERS, Enisey TV

'At 12.05 pm, I was at the crash site. The scene was terrible. Bloodied faces, the bodies of the dead and injured - all together, and the broken, torn apart helicopter. I could hear moans and pleas for help.

'At the site of the tragedy, there was no rescue service from Igarka airport or the town's emergency service. Only the wind, snow and minus 17 degrees Celsius. But I was going to help, to help the rescuers, who are to save us, when such a terrible accident occur.

'I called my wife asking her to report about what happened to all the emergency services. I could enter the passenger compartment only through a small hole on the rear side.

'I had to undress and on all fours pull out moaning people. They could not  bear the touch, they cried out in pain, and I yelled with them, pulling them. An animal fear threatens to suffocate me every time I climbed in this small gap.

'I walked on all fours on the ice and snow, soaked in kerosene. Something periodically was rotating and buzzing over my head. I was afraid to fall under the ice with this multi-ton colossus... God saved me, and I, as much I could, rescued people screaming in pain.

'At 12.22 pm I called to my wife again, asking if she had managed to reach anybody - and where were the rescuers, why there is no one here when people are dying?

'Soon came the inhabitants of Igarsky island on their snowmobiles and started to rescue and transport those still alive, broken and bleeding, passengers. The first rescuers arrived from the airport at about 12.40pm. 

Transportation of inured to Krasnoyarsk


Transportation of inured to Krasnoyarsk

Injured are evacuated from Igarka to Krasoyarsk. Pictures: MOE in Krasoyarsk region

'It was a terrible sight: girls dragging by themselves brown bags left from the Soviet era and stretchers, across the deep snow and ice crust, for about one kilometre. A wild picture of a 21st century rescue. Even before their appearance, the victims, still alive, were taken away on snowmobiles and hovercraft by the simple residents of Igarsky island and the town.

'What struck me most - is a complete lack of leadership during the rescue. The absence of any organisation of this vital work. There were not enough stretchers, blankets, or sheets, simply to cover the bleeding people. All around - incredible groans of dying, bleeding people. 

'With such a way of transporting victims, they suffered like a second crash, because the distance to the shore was more than a kilometre, and the Yenisei is all in ice hillocks.

'All the rescue managers arriving at the site did not rush to save the people. They just took pictures on their smartphones and probably passed information to their superiors. 

'There were no tools for metal cutting. The second pilot, who was trapped and no longer breathing, was released only by the evening of the second day after the crash.

'People were dying, bleeding to death in the snow, and the officials, knowing that something happened to the helicopter, did not hit the alarm, even though the whole town was already talking about what happened.

Map

Mi-8 helicopters with oil workers on board crashed onto the frozen Yenisei River i two kilometres from Igarka airport in Krasnoyarsk region. Picture: The Siberian Times

'So dear residents and guests of our city, when you fly or drive, pray to God that if something happens to you, there will be simple guys nearby, who do not hesitate to come to your aid and, as they can, save people in such terrible disasters.

'The simple guys here were brothers Sergey and Nikolay Doronin, their cousin Vladimir Doronin, Vanya Usoltsev, Dima Rabkov, Misha Turkov, Sergey Androsov, Valera Demyunikayte, Alexander Alekseev, Vasya Tolstykh, Andrey Kazantsev, those with the hovercraft, the girls from the Department of Transportation of Igarka airport and many ordinary locals.

'Each one of them left a part of their soul to rescue the victims. A great human thanks to them for those who survived from their relatives and friends.

'Four days after this terrible crash, analysing and remembering what happened, I have come to the conclusion that the victims were delivered to Igarka hospital too late. That is why the death toll rose to 12 people.

'I remember the crew commander Sasha Monakhov lying on the snow, in his headphones, white shirt, and not a single drop of blood on the crystal snow. I came to the conclusion that he had the strength to get out of the wreckage, and he just froze, waiting for help from us.

'Who is responsible for this?'

Comments (3)

What a superb, plain account of a terrible crash. -17°C is unthinkable for survival. To my knowledge, there was no mention of this in the Australian media, and there should have been. My thoughts are with the victims and the heroic people who rescued the survivors.
Wayne Suffield, Ararat, Australia.
13/12/2015 04:42
2
0
Simply unbelievable ! If not for the people who lent their hands, it's obvious no one would have survived. We thank brothers Sergey and Nikolay Doronin, their cousin Vladimir Doronin, Vanya Usoltsev, Dima Rabkov, Misha Turkov, Sergey Androsov, Valera Demyunikayte, Alexander Alekseev, Vasya Tolstykh, Andrey Kazantsev, those with the hovercraft, the girls from the Department of Transportation of Igarka airport and many ordinary locals. This incident should spur Russian authorities to do a post-mortem and bring about changes.
Jeyapaul, Malacca, Malaysia.
05/12/2015 09:47
5
0
however the photos above do not corroborate this account.
sharik, moscow, russia
03/12/2015 21:33
0
2
1

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