( RIA Novosti ) - Three people died when a utility helicopter crashed into the sea near the western coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's Far East on Thursday, local emergencies officials said.
"At about 7:10 p.m. local time, the Mi-2 circled the village of Ustyevoye and suddenly crashed into the sea about 100 meters ( 330 feet) off the coast," a spokesman for the local emergencies department said.
The body of the pilot, Yury Khudrivy, was discovered at the scene by two towboats. The bodies of two passengers were washed ashore. The search for others who could have been on board the helicopter is continuing. The emergencies service said a helicopter with more rescuers and medics is on alert.
Earlier reports said the emergencies service had been alerted by villagers, who heard a rattle as the helicopter fell into the Sea of Okhotsk.
The Mi-2, an 8-passenger helicopter with a flight range of about 600 kilometers ( 370 miles), belonged to a private insurance company. Officials said it was making an uncoordinated flight.
Earlier accidents involving Mi-2s include last year's crash, when two men were killed in the Far East's Maritime Territory. The helicopter went missing late last year, and its wreckage and two bodies were found in July 2007.
Four people were killed and two seriously injured in a Mi-2 accident in the northwestern region of Vologda in December 2005, when the copter crashed while flying over a natural gas pipeline.