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Air mystery solved after ten months

By The Siberian Times reporter
08 August 2015

Possible 'explosion' at time of Tyva Republic helicopter crash, say experts, as mourning period expected for up to 14 people killed.

Remains of the crashed aircraft were discovered on a steep mountain slope close to the Ulug-O River, some 2,500 metres above sea level Picture: Ministry of Emergencies in Tyva Republic

A long search to explain the fate of Mikoyan Mi-8 helicopter, which crashed in this southern Siberian region, has ended after the discovery of remains of the crashed aircraft on a steep mountain slope close to the Ulug-O River, some 2,500 metres above sea level. The remains of 10 people were seen at the site, according to preliminary reports by law enforcement agencies, but it believed 14 were on board, three crew and 11 passengers.

A sombre message from Tyva Governor Sholban Kara-ool confirmed that debris of the Mi-8 helicopter, which was lost on 10 October 2014, has been found. 

'Unfortunately, they [crew and passengers] had no chance. A tragedy happened. Rescuers and investigators have started working. We will announce mourning as soon as we learn the fate of every person. They were dignified people from Tyva and Khakassia', Sholban Kara-ool said.

Regional Emergencies Ministry official Dmitry Kryzh said on Saturday: 'The slope there is very big - about 45 degrees.'

Because of the slope and loose soil, rescuers had to use special safety devices to get to the debris. 'Several rescuers went to the site of the tragedy,' he said. 'They saw that only a part of the tail and the engine's speed reducer could be found there. We do not rule out an explosion could occurred there at the time of the crash.'

Helicopter crash in Tyva


Helicopter crash in Tyva


Helicopter crash in Tyva


Helicopter crash in Tyva

'Several rescuers went to the site of the tragedy. They saw that only a part of the tail and the engine's speed reducer could be found there.' Pictures: Ministry of Emergencies in Tyva Republic

It was only by chance that rescuers found the debris, reported TASS. 

'They are not seen from air even if you fly very close to the ground,' said the official. 'Most probably, after the crash the helicopter got covered by snow very quickly. On 10 October, it was overcast there and it snowed.'

The closest road is seven kilometres from the site. 

Investigators from Moscow are due at the site on Sunday. A key task will be to discover the reason for the crash of the aircraft which was under the control of a highly experienced pilot but flying in high winds.

The significance of any 'explosion' was unclear on Saturday. Evacuation of the bodies and debris will only begin after the site is inspected by investigators. 

Radio contact with the helicopter of Tyva-Avia Airline was lost on 10 October 2014 when it was on the way between the communities of Sorug and Kyzyl, a distance of some 270 km. Specialists on board the helicopter were making an aerial survey of snow levels. 

Reports varied on the number of people on board. Up to 14 crew and passengers were reported. Intensive searches carried out since the helicopter's disappearance had failed to locate the missing aircraft over remote and rugged mountains and taiga. The remains were eventually spotted by an Mi-8 Russian armed forces helicopter crew as they flew some 90 km northwest of republican capital Kyzyl on Friday. 

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