The aircraft crashed after a collision with another helicopter. The victims went to work on an oil station.
The three crew members and the 15 employees are all dead. The plane crashed on Saturday morning in northern Siberia after a collision with another helicopter, the Ministry of Transport announced in Moscow.
The Mi-8 helicopter was carrying men going to work on a petrol station. The aircraft collided shortly after takeoff with a suspended equipment transport system at the other aircraft, the ministry said. This second helicopter could then land without problem.
The accident took place in the facilities of Vankor, a large hydrocarbon deposit located in the north of the Krasnoyarsk region and operated by the state-owned company Rosneft.
This huge deposit contains hundreds of wells, some of which are located some hundred kilometers from the central facilities, all beyond the Arctic Circle. Men work there in rotation because of the particularly difficult conditions.
Accidents by helicopters or small planes are common in Siberia and the Russian Far East, where they are a common means of transport to cover the huge distances in these sparsely populated areas.
Open criminal investigation
The helicopter belonged to the Russian national airline Utair, who said the accident took place at 2:43 am on takeoff from the main Vankor station in the Tourouhansk district.
The helicopter was built in 2010 and the 30-year-old pilot had nearly 6,000 flying hours, including more than 2,000 as captain, the company said.
The Ministry of Transport announced that a commission of inquiry had been created, but a criminal investigation was also opened.