Russian helicopter crash in northern Siberia kills 18
It added that the second helicopter landed safely and that the accident took place in "normal" weather conditions.
"The first take-off was carried out by a Mi-8 with an external cargo suspension without passengers on board, the second take-off was performed with passengers who were workers on shifts at the oil station," the ministry said in a statement.
"According to preliminary information, the Mi-8 carrying passengers for reasons unknown collided with the external suspension of the second helicopter after take-off. As a result it fell, was destroyed and burned," it added.
"Three crew members and 15 passengers died."
The helicopter was operated by Russian national airline Utair, which has its head office in Khanty Mansiysk airport in western Siberia.
In a statement issued on its website, Utair said the crash took place at 05:43 Moscow time (0243 GMT) after taking off from a helipad at the Vankor oil and gas field, in the Turuhansk district of the Krasnoyarsk region.
The oil field is operated by Russian national oil company Rosneft through its subsidiary Vankorneft.
It added that the pilot was born in 1985 and was trained at the Omsk Aviation School in southwestern Siberia.
"He flew 5,990 hours, 2,300 of which he was the helicopter commander," Utair's statement said.
The airline said it sent its specialists to the site of the crash.
The country's Investigative Committee said it opened a criminal investigation into the crash.
Accidents involving helicopters and small planes are frequent in Siberia and far eastern Russia, where air transport is commonly used to cover vast distances.
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