A helicopter carrying 16 tourists crashed into Kurile Lake, a deep volcanic crater lake in the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's far east. According to the reports, eight passengers are missing. Of the eight who have been traced, two suffered serious injuries. A search operation for the missing passengers has been launched.
The nationalities of the missing tourists haven't been revealed yet. As per Russia's Emergencies Ministry and state's news agency report, 13 tourists and three crew members were aboard the Mi-8 helicopter. It was flying over the Kronotsky nature reserve when it plunged into the volcanic lake after hitting intense fog.
The missing are feared dead but there isn't any official word on it yet. Unfavorable weather is believed to have played a role in the crash. According to reports, dense fog is making rescue efforts more difficult. Russian authorities are also looking into a possible violation of flight safety rules. Several local emergency workers, including three divers, are conducting rescue efforts and searching the lake to find the missing tourists.
Kamchatka peninsula, known for its pristine beauty and rich wildlife, is also home to numerous volcanoes. The Kronotsky Reserve, which has Russia's only geyser basin, is a major tourist attraction on Kamchatka. Private helicopters regularly carry tourists to the area as it can only be reached by air. It is believed that quickly changing weather often makes flights risky.
Last month, a passenger plane crashed due to bad weather on the same peninsula, killing all 28 passengers on board.
Mi-8, a two-engine helicopter designed in the 1960s, is used widely in Russia, ex-Soviet countries, and many other nations. This too was a Mi-8, which is reportedly lying at a depth of about 100 meters (328 feet) in Kurile Lake that is up to 316 meters (1,037-feet) deep. The director of Vityaz-Aero, a local private carrier, claimed that the chopper had recently undergone maintenance and was in good shape.