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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Helicopter Carrying 9 People Crashes Near Sochi

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Southern Russia -- A Ka-32 helicopter with nine people on board crashed near the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Thursday, and its burnt-out wreck left little hope that anyone survived, officials said.

The helicopter went missing in the mountains in deep fog, said Alexander Lemeshev, a spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry's branch in southern Russia.

Construction workers found the helicopter, which was burned and destroyed, near a mountain about 55 kilometers north of the city, said Rudolf Teimurazov, deputy head of the Interstate Aviation Committee in Moscow.

Preliminary reports from rescuers who reached the site indicated there were no survivors, Teimurazov said.

Lemeshev said the helicopter only carried the crew of four, but Nikolai Shustov, the chief of the ministry's office in Sochi, said it had nine people on board, including five passengers.

Ground controllers lost communication with the crew after hearing a bang. Mountaineers in the area told emergency officials in Sochi that they had seen a helicopter flying low over the mountains and then heard an explosion and saw smoke.

Alexander Zykov, a deputy chief of the private company that owned the helicopter, Pankh, said the helicopter was delivering cargo to a construction site in the mountains.

The crash, which came just as President Vladimir Putin arrived in Sochi for a working vacation, closely follows two helicopter crashes that killed 26 people last month in the Far East.

The Aug. 20 crash of an Mi-8 in the Kamchatka Peninsula killed all 20 people on board, including the Sakhalin governor, after the crew dangerously deviated from the set course and slammed into the ground in low, thick clouds.

On Aug. 26, two military Mi-24 helicopter gunships collided while landing following military exercises, killing six.