A helicopter carrying a pilot and three passengers who were conducting field work for an Alaskan government agency crashed Thursday night, killing all four on board, the National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday.
The wreckage of the helicopter, a Bell 206, was found in a large shallow lake in an extremely remote area about 50 miles southwest of Utqiagvikwhich is the northernmost community in the United States and is home to approximately 5,100 residents.
Officials are still investigating the cause of the crash, the NTSB said.
The three state employees aboard, whose names were not disclosed, worked for the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys and were conducting field research near Utqiagvik, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources said on Facebook.
The department, which did not immediately return calls seeking comment on Saturday, said it launched a search and rescue effort Thursday night after those aboard the helicopter failed to check in as expected.
It was not immediately clear whether the bodies of the victims had been recovered.
On Saturday, a team of rescue and recovery divers was deployed to the murky brown lake, The Anchorage Daily News reports it.
Maritime Helicopters, the company that operated the helicopter, said in a declaration that « the entire maritime family is deeply saddened by this tragedy and asks you to keep your thoughts and prayers » for the families who have lost loved ones.
In April, two US Army helicopters returning from a training flight crashed in Alaska with four people on board, killing three soldiers and injuring a fourth, army officials said.
In March 2021, five people, including the Czech Republic’s richest man at the time, were killed on a heli-skiing excursion after their helicopter crashed near a glacier in Alaska, officials said.