VIP helicopter carrying tourists plunges into volcanic lake in horror crash
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Holidaymakers are fighting for their lives after a helicopter carrying tourists crashed into a volcanic lake.
The chopper was trying to land in Kurile Lake, eastern Russia, in thick fog before tragedy struck on Thursday, August 12.
It crashed nose down into the lake, and survivors were forced to swim out of the rear cargo hatches – 30ft below the water’s surface.
Eight people were rescued from the 6C water, two of whom are now in a serious condition in hospital.
However, later reports claimed that nine had been found alive.
The flight was for wealthy tourists on a “VIP trip”, it was reported.
The helicopter sank to a depth of 450ft in the crater lake, but divers at the scene only had equipment to go down 65ft.
No bodies have yet been located in the waters, and rescuers are seeking help from the Russian navy with deep diving equipment.
The passengers were mainly from Moscow and St Petersburg who had taken their summer holidays at home during the pandemic.
It is not believed foreigners were involved.
One survivor was Nikolay Korzhenevsky, ex-TV presenter at the Rossiya 24 channel, now a specialist in stock trading in Russia.
Other survivors were Vityaz Aero guide Anastasia Ponomareva, the helicopter’s technician Marat Madiev, and navigator Yakov Medvedev.
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Tourist Mikhail Malyakov survived, but his son Daniil was reported missing.
Main pilot Nikolay Sorokin is still missing along with two crew members.
The Vityaz-Aero helicopter was carrying the tourists to Khodutka, a volcano near the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
The two-engine Mi-8 was manufactured during the Soviet era 37 years ago, and underwent major repairs last year.
It was operated by Vityaz-Aero, a local private carrier.
Pilot Sorokin was described as highly experienced, a former military officer.
One of its owners is Russia’s richest politician Igor Redkin, 55, who was detained this week for shooting dead a man who he "mistook for a brown bear".
A criminal case was opened into the crash.
Engine failure and pilot error were seen as the main versions of the Mi-8 tragedy, a source in the emergency services told TASS.
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