Source AP ©

Mi-8 helicopter crashes in Siberia killing 9

Russia's emergencies ministry says a helicopter has crashed in Siberia, killing nine of the 16 people aboard.

The Mi-8 helicopter was carrying oil workers when it went down Wednesday in the petroleum-rich Yamalo-Nenets region of Siberia.

Ministry spokeswoman Natalia Lukash says three crew members and four passengers survived.

The RIA-Novosti news agency says the helicopter belonged to the Russian airline UTAir. It quotes company spokesman Yuri Mushikhin as saying the aircraft was flying to an oil drilling platform.

The twin-engine Mi-8 is a workhorse of Russia's military and civilian air fleets.

The Mil Mi-8 (NATO reporting name "Hip") is a medium twin-turbine transport helicopter that can also act as a gunship. The first single-engine (AI-24W) prototype, W-8, flew in 9 July 1961. A second one with two AI-24W engines made its first flight on 17 September 1962. After few changes it was introduced into the Soviet Air Force by 1967 as Mi-8.

The Mi-8 is the world's second most-produced helicopter, and is used by over 50 countries. There are numerous variants, including the Mi-8T which is armed with rockets and anti-tank guided missiles, in addition to carrying twenty four soldiers. The Mil Mi-17 export version is employed by around 20 countries; its equivalent in Russian service in the Mi-8M series. The naval Mil Mi-14 and attack Mil Mi-24 are also derived from the Mi-8.