BARENTSBURG CRASH UPDATE: Raising of helicopter now set for Friday

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Russian and Norwegian officials spent Thursday continuing their search of a site where a helicopter crashed a week ago and preparing to raise it Friday using a ship now on the scene, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

“The actual lifting will not happen until Friday morning,” Terje Carlsen, a spokesman for the governor, told Svalbardposten. “The vessel is now investigating the area around the helicopter wreck with a remote-operated vehicle. The first step is to look for the deceased around the helicopter.”

The governor’s office, which is in charge of the recovery effort, originally planned to try raising the helicopter Thursday after the Maersk Forza, a ship specially equipped for such work, arrived from the mainland Wednesday night. But Kåre Halvorsen, administrative director of the Accident Investigation Board of Norway, told the newspaper doing the job correctly is the most important thing and “if it takes a few more hours that’s not such a bad thing.”

Remote-controlled submarines and a team of Russian divers have surveyed more than 60,000 square meters of the seabed in the area where the Mi-8 helicopter crashed about two kilometers north of the heliport in Barentsburg, according to Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations. Rescue workers and helicopters have also searched scores of kilometers of shorelines. All eight Russians aboard the aircraft are presumed dead, but only one body has been recovered.

The governor’s office has established an information phone line for relatives of the victims at 815 02 800 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily.

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