MOSCOW (AFP) – At least three people, including two British citizens, were killed in Russia's Far North on Sunday when a helicopter crashed into them while they were standing on the ground, officials said.
A distress signal had already been received from the Eurocopter-120 before it made the hard landing on the north of the Kola peninsula in the Murmansk region.
"Three people were killed, two of them are British citizens," the local branch of the emergencies ministry said in a statement on Russian news agencies.
RIA Novosti said that the two foreigners were believed to be tourists. The identity of the other individual said to have been killed was not immediately clear.
Reports said the three appeared to have been crushed to death by the helicopter while standing on the ground and were not inside the aircraft at the time of the crash.
"After take-off, the helicopter tilted and fell onto its side. Three people who were on the ground at the time died of their injuries," a source in Russia's aviation agency Rosaviatsia told the RIA Novosti news agency.
Reports said it was possible that the tourists had been taken by helicopter to the remote area for fishing and then killed by the aircraft after it had deposited them in bad weather.
The Life News website described the Britons as "VIP tourists" who were taking part in a fishing trip especially for foreigners.