Death toll from helicopter crash in Siberia at least 20

July 3, 2013 at 11:39 AM
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MOSCOW, July 3 (UPI) -- One of the passengers seriously injured in a helicopter crash in northeastern Russia has died, raising the death toll to at least 20, officials said Wednesday.

The Interstate Aviation Committee initially said 19 people died in the accident Tuesday, but the toll was unconfirmed by the Emergencies Ministry, whose rescue teams have yet to reach the site, RIA Novosti reported.

The Mi-8 passenger helicopter was carrying 28 people, including 11 children when it crashed in the Siberian republic of Yakutia.

"There is a version of events that says that out of the 28 people [on the helicopter], three crew members, one woman and a 2-year-old girl survived Tuesday. There is information that a badly wounded woman could have died. The condition of one of the crew members is very serious," a regional government official said.

Despite a search involving nine aircraft and nearly 400 people, the helicopter wreckage and any survivors were still to be located more than a day after the crash, RIA Novosti said.

"We are not confirming that the helicopter has been found," an Emergencies Ministry spokesman said Wednesday.

Confusion about where the crash site is could be the main as well as poor weather conditions, the news service said. However, the Emergencies Ministry said in a statement the pilot contacted the agency overnight by satellite phone, allowing a fix on his position.

Officials said the helicopter's tail smacked into a hillside after the craft encountered turbulence about 31 miles from Deputatsky.

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