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Mi-8 helicopter missing in Kazakhstan

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ALMATY, March 12 (Xinhua) -- An Mi-8 helicopter with eight people onboard has gone missing in eastern Kazakhstan, the Kazakh state news agency reported on Friday. The helicopter lost contact with the air control tower Thursday afternoon when it was on a rescue mission with another helicopter in East Kazakhstan province, a local emergency state bureau spokesman was quoted as saying. The missing helicopter made its last contact with the tower at about 2:00 p.m. local time. The eight onboard included two local officials and two doctors. Rescuers had been searching for the helicopter, but bad weather and low visibility severely hampered the rescue efforts, the report said, adding that local residents were mobilized to join the search. Local emergency state bureau officials and fast-reaction troops would leave for the accident site as soon as weather permits, the report said. Cold weather hit northern and eastern Kazakhstan in recent days, with heavy snows paralyzing road traffic on many highways. The government has dispatched helicopters and snow vehicles to rescue stranded passengers.
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