Russian helicopter with eight people on board has smashed into the sea near the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. He added that there was poor visibility and heavy snowfall in the region.
Svalbard is more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) north of Norway's mainland. It is known for stunning views of snow-covered mountains, fjords and glaciers.
The helicopter was en route from Barentsburg, Svalbard's second largest settlement.
It is home to about 500 people, nearly entirely Russians and Ukrainians. It attracts some tourists on excursions to see the empty Soviet-era buildings and the world's northernmost monument to Vladimir Lenin.
The Norway Rescue Service then confirmed the helicopter "came down" just 2km off the coast of Barentsburg.
There were three pilots and five passengers aboard the helicopter, the Russian emergencies services told TASS.
Agency spokesman Tore Hongset tells Norwegian news agency NTB they had not received any mayday signal from the helicopter.
Norway sent two rescue vessels and a helicopter to the site of the crash.
"It's a civilian helicopter that belongs to the Arktikugol company and it flies the miners between (Svalbard's main town of) Longyearbyen and Barentsburg".
In 2008, another Mil Mi-8 crashed near Barentsburg, killing three of its nine occupants.