Source Pravda.Ru

Bodies of 14 people recovered: Baltic Sea helicopter crash

Divers recovered 14 bodies trapped inside a submerged helicopter that crashed in the Baltic Sea off the Estonian coast on Wednesday.

The cause of the crash was unclear, but Estonian officials said technical problems may have been to blame.

The U.S.-made Sikorsky S-76 went down three minutes after takeoff on a commercial flight from Tallinn to Helsinki, Finland. On board were two Finnish pilots and 12 passengers from Finland, Estonia and the United States. No survivors were found.

Officials said the body of one of the pilots was lifted from the wreckage, which was resting on the seabed at a depth of 48 meters (157 feet).

Estonia's police commander Robert Antropov said divers were not able to open the doors of the helicopter and had to lift the bodies through the shattered front windows. They could not confirm that all 14 bodies were inside the chopper, he said.

A storm in the area had caused the cancellation of ferries between Tallinn and Helsinki, but Interior Ministry spokeswoman Jaana Aduson said winds at the time and place of the crash were not very strong. The flight across the 80-kilometer (50-mile) Gulf of Finland takes about 18 minutes.

U.S. officials said the National Transport Safety Board would assist Estonian and Finnish crash investigators.

Last year, Finnish aviation authorities temporarily banned the company from flying helicopters in bad weather due to inexperience of pilots. The restriction was lifted after the company made policy changes.

The victims have not all been publicly identified. One Estonian passenger was Ruta Kruuda, 38, whose husband Oliver Kruuda runs chocolate maker Kalev AS, the company said. The Finnish victims included Matti Kopperi, 61, head of the country's Center for Occupational Safety, and his deputy, Marjut Ruotsalainen, 52, the organization said. Union officials Pentti Vainio, 59, and Ari Seger, 51, and business executive Tapio Kuikko, 54, were also on board.

A family member identified the two Americans on board as Lydia Riis Hamburgen, 86, of Rochester, Minnesota, and her daughter, Mary Elizabeth Hamburgen, 46, of Rolling Hills Estates, California, the AP reports.