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Russian Helicopter Crash in Siberia Kills 19

FILE - A Russian military Mi-8 helicopter.

Nineteen people were killed Saturday when a helicopter carrying oil workers crashed in northwestern Siberia. Weather may be to blame, the Russia aviation agency reported.

Russian officials said the Mi-8 helicopter carrying 22 people was flying from Vankor to Staryi Yrengoi in the Yamalo-Nenets region when the incident happened 45 kilometers from Staryi Urengoi.

According to a preliminary investigation, all three crew members and 16 of the 19 workers onboard died at the scene. The helicopter was taking workers from a subcontractor of Russian oil giant Rosneft, TASS state news reported.

It took a rescue team hours to find the crash site due to fog and poor visibility.

Emergency workers found the helicopter lying on its side, but they were still able to save three people from the wreckage.

The three passengers are reported to have suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries. They were able to call rescuers on the phone from inside the helicopter after it crashed, saying the aircraft "flew into strong winds and fell."

Russia's civil aviation authority has opened an investigation, but said "based on preliminary data, the incident could be linked to unfavorable weather conditions."

Officials said a special commission will investigate the crew's decision to fly during adverse weather.

President Vladimir Putin extended his condolences to the victims' relatives and loved ones.