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Missing Russian helicopter found in Arctic

The wreckage of a Russian helicopter missing since Thursday has been found on the seabed, rescuers say.

The Mi-8 helicopter crashed off the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard with eight Russian men – five crew and three passengers – on board, all of whom are presumed to be dead.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre for northern Norway said the wreckage is around a mile (2km) east of Cape Heer.

In a statement, the rescue services said: “The wreck of the Russian helicopter has been located… northeast of Heerodden, at a depth of 209 metres (686 feet). The search has now concluded, and has moved into a search phase for the presumed dead.”

The helicopter had been taking three scientists from Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute to Barentsburg from the Russian settlement of Pyramiden.

A major search effort involving a sea patrol plane, a Danish aircraft, two Norwegian helicopters and several vessels had been scouring the likely crash site since Thursday.

A small robot submarine was deployed to search an area where an oil patch and bubbles had been seen.

Barentsburg is a Russian coal-mining town of about 500 people. Under a 1920 treaty, Norway has sovereignty over the archipelago but other signatory countries have rights to exploit its natural resources.

Svalbard is more than 500 miles (800km) north of Norway’s mainland. It is known for stunning views of snow-covered mountains, fjords and glaciers.

In March 2008, three people were killed when a Russian Mi-8 helicopter with nine people on board crashed near Barentsburg.

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