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RIA Novosti

Russia

Presidential envoy among 7 dead in Siberia helicopter crash - 2

19:06 11/01/2009
(recasts, adds details after paragraph 7)

MOSCOW, January 11 (RIA Novosti) - Seven people including the Russian president's envoy to the State Duma, Alexander Kosopkin, died in a helicopter crash in Altai, south Siberia, an Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman said Sunday.

Pavel Popov, deputy head of the ministry's local department, said that four people survived the crash, including a second pilot and Anatoly Bannykh, the republic's deputy prime minister and also the republic's plenipotentiary representative in Moscow.

"Four people survived the crash," he said, adding that two of the injured were in a critical state and two others were in satisfactory condition.

Kosopkin, President Dmitry Medvedev's representative in Russia's lower house of parliament, was among eight passengers and three crew on a Mi-8 helicopter owned by energy giant Gazprom that went missing two days ago. The party was traveling from the town of Chemal to Kosh-Agach, near the Mongolian border, to go on a hunting trip.

The helicopter lost contact with air traffic control on Friday at around 3:00 p.m. local time (08:00 GMT). The wreckage of the helicopter was discovered near Chornaya Mountain in the Republic of Altai by a local border guard team on Sunday, a spokesman for the Federal Security Service (FSB) said.

The FSB spokesman did not confirm reports that a crew member had made it to the village of Tashkant, located on the Russian-Kazakh border some 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) from the crash site, and raised the alert about the accident.

Bannykh told the head of the Altai republic, Alexander Berdnikov, in a telephone conversation that "an engine malfunction occurred during the flight and the helicopter crashed."

Investigators said Sunday there were three versions for why the crash occurred - bad weather, technical malfunction and pilot error.

The injured people were taken by helicopter to the village of Aktash, located some 125 kilometers (78 miles) from the crash site.

"The condition of the survivors is assessed as serious due to numerous injuries and frostbite," a hospital official said.

The Kremlin said Sunday that Medvedev expressed his condolences to the family of the president's envoy to the State Duma.

"This is an irreplaceable loss for the family and for all those, who knew, valued and respected Alexander Kosopkin," Medvedev said.

Yelena Kobzeva, the chief spokeswoman of the regional government, said regional head Berdnikov had given his condolences to relatives and friends of those killed in the crash.

Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov also expressed condolences to the near and dear of the victims.

"MPs and State Duma staff grieve over the tragic death of our colleague," he said, according to the Duma press service said.

Kosopkin held the post since 2004.

A source in the Russian aeronavigation service said Sunday that an Emergency Situations Ministry helicopter had transferred the four survivors to Barnaul, the main city in the region, for further observation by doctors.

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RIA NovostiPresidential envoy among 7 dead in Siberia helicopter crash - 2

19:06 11/01/2009  Seven people including the Russian president's envoy to the State Duma, Alexander Kosopkin, died in a helicopter crash in Altai, south Siberia, an Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman said Sunday. >>

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