Rescue teams are continuing their search for a helicopter that has disappeared in Russia's Far East with the governor of a major region and up to 20 other people on board. Scores of ships and planes are scouring the southern end of the rugged Kamchatka peninsula.
Rescuers searched on land and ships and border patrol boats roamed the Pacific coastline trying to locate the Russian helicopter that disappeared on Wednesday. The aircraft was carrying Igor Farkhutdinov, governor of the oil-rich Sakhalin region, a number of his top aides.
The group was on its way to an island south of Kamchatka to inspect damages caused by a recent typhoon as well as to check on preparations for the coming winter.
Officials said the helicopter disappeared about an hour after taking off from Kamchatka's only city, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. But border guards say they did not see the craft cross over the Kamchatka coastline, narrowing the search to the southern tip of the remote peninsula and the nearby sea.
The helicopter could have passed some of the dozens of snow-capped volcanoes located on Kamchatka. Few of the volcanoes in the area are active, but officials say it is possible it crashed into the side of one. Most regions of the remote peninsula and nearby islands can be reached only by helicopter. The missing craft was an MI-8, one of thousands, which have long been in service throughout Russia's vast interior.
Sakhalin Governor Igor Farkhutdinov has been a key player in attracting foreign investment to the region's oil and gas industry, which includes offshore oil drilling rigs.
The industry has led to an economic boom in the region, which lies due north of Japan.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov has ordered the all-out search for the missing helicopter, and officials were keeping President Vladimir Putin informed.