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Four people miraculously found alive a day and a half after helicopter crash in remote region

By The Siberian Times reporter
04 July 2013

A desperate rescue mission saved four people - but up to 24 are feared dead in the air tragedy in the Sakha Republic.

The Mi-8 helicopter was believed to be carrying 17 adults and 11 children when it came down in turbulence in an area of the Sakha Republic - also known as Yakutia - some 1025 km from capital Yakutsk. Picture: NTV.ru

Amid angst and misery, a least one mother was given hope that her son was among the survivors. 

'Three members of the crew and a 12 years old child were found alive,' said Alexey Khlybov, press chief of the Yakutia's Emergencies Ministry told newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.

'The search for other passengers continues. Three of the survivors are evacuated, the helicopter will be back to pick the fourth. Right now we have three people at the hospital of Ust-Kaiga, they are all members of the crew,' said Maria Dubrovskaya from the Far Eastern Centre of the Russian Ministry of Emergencies. 

'A 12 years old boy Oleg Levkovets is receiving medical help at the scene. Sadly there is no exact information about his injuries.'

The boy's mother Lilya said from Kazachye village: 'I am still not sure that it is my son, I am scared to believe. The rescuers said they were pretty sure it was our boy, but we are not 100% confident. They say he's got a spine injury, so he is likely to be transported to hospital. I am sitting here like at the edge of the knife, waiting to hear where they say I can go to see my son'.

The Mi-8 helicopter was believed to be carrying 17 adults and 11 children when it came down in turbulence in an area of the Sakha Republic - also known as Yakutia - some 1025 km from capital Yakutsk. 

A mammoth rescue operation of 400 people and nine aircraft was involved in the search which initially failed to find the wreckage of the aircraft. Earlier reports suggested that more than 20 had perished but confirmation of the death toll is unlikely before a daylight search on Thursday. An initial account also suggested a two year old girl had survived. 

Restricted satellite phone contact with the authorities finally enabled the helicopter crash site to be found.

There is surprise that satellite tracking devices did not enable the helicopter to be located sooner.  

The crash site is believed to be around 50km from the village of  Deputatsky, a gold and tin mining centre some 1,025 km from regional capital Yakutsk. It is also involved in deer farming, fishing, and the fur trade. Among the passengers feared dead were families returning from holiday, local officials, two of whom were on the supervisory board of diamond mining company Alrosa, said Kommersant newspaper.  

The helicopter encountered severe turbulence and struck a hill with its tail during a regular passenger flight, it was reported.

Such helicopter passenger services are a vital lifeline to remote villages with no road or rail links. 

Comments (1)

Horrible. Life is so so unfair sometimes. Rest in peace those who perished, quickest recovery to all wounded ones, and well done to the rescuers.
Daniel, US
04/07/2013 23:57
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