Russian authorities have reportedly launched a criminal investigation into a helicopter crash which killed two British tourists and their guide.
Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry said the Eurocopter helicopter banked to one side and crashed while attempting to take off in the Lovozersky district of Murmansk.
It is understood the British pair had travelled to the remote region for an organised river fishing expedition with their Russian translator and were killed by the whirling rotors of the aircraft as it landed on its side.
“The helicopter unloaded the passengers and then ploughed into the ground as it was trying to take off, crushing the people,” emergencies minister Oleg Voronov was quoted as saying.
The Life News website described them as “VIP tourists”.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are aware of reports of the deaths of two British nationals in Russia. We are in touch with the local authorities and stand ready to provide consular assistance.”
Fishing expeditions to the salmon-rich rivers of the far north are one of very few tourism attractions of Russia that bring in high-paying foreign tourists to regions beyond Moscow and St Petersburg.
“The foreign tourists were staying in a luxury camp for fishing,” a security source told the Interfax news agency.
A distress signal had already been received from the chopper, reportedly owned by the Russian firm Alliance Avia, before it made the crash-landing.
The pilot survived, but was injured.
Russian investigators examining the scene say the cause of the crash is unclear, and have opened a criminal investigation into the crash, The Sun newspaper said.