Tourist helicopter hit by avalanche in Russia, 10 dead

MOSCOW – Ten people were killed when a helicopter carrying snowboarders was hit by an avalanche after landing on a ski slope in Russia’s Far East, a spokeswoman for the Emergency Ministry said.

The helicopter, carrying 18 people including tourists from Germany and Belgium, had landed on a ski slope in Russia’s Kamchatka region.

eTN Chatroom: Discuss with readers from around the world:

“As of now we think 10 people died, but eight are alive,” Irina Andrianova of the Emergency Ministry told Reuters, adding three Russians and one German citizen were found to be dead when they were dug out of the snow.

“Two Russians and four Germans are still under the snow. There is practically no chance they have survived as the temperature is minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 F) and the thickness of the snow is 10-15 meters (30-45 ft),” she added.

Two helicopter crew members also were among the dead.

“It has been found out that the avalanche was started by tourists who were traveling down hill,” Vesti 24 TV said on its web site, citing the Emergency Ministry.

“The helicopter was destroyed completely, two crew members on board and eight tourists who were on the hillside were killed.”