By Etem Geylan and Ali Cevahir Akturk
Seven people, including four Russian nationals visiting Turkey, were killed when a helicopter crashed in an Istanbul suburb on Friday.
“We are saddened with the news of the death of seven people, including the two pilots on board the helicopter,” said a statement by Kugu Aviation, the company which operated the helicopter.
Kugu identified four of passengers as Aleksandr Vanin, Igor Kochergin, Luidmila Chuprova and Elena Badragan -- all Russian nationals.
A fifth passenger was Turkish national Salim Ozen, and the pilots were identified as Alaattin Nacar and Ahmet Bulut.
The Sikorsky helicopter had earlier taken off from Ataturk Airport, east of the Buyukcekmece suburb, and was headed for Bilecik province in northwest Anatolia.
Buyukcekmece is situated on the northwestern side of the city and contains an industrial area and residential neighborhoods.
The E5 highway, which runs through the district, was closed after debris landed on the road.
No official cause was given for the crash, which happened at around 11.30 local time (0830GMT), but Cemal Canpolat, provincial head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the crash was related to poor visibility due to fog.
Initial reports said the helicopter crashed into a television tower.
Eczacibasi Holding, a conglomerate focused on building products, healthcare and consumer products, said the helicopter was carrying two of its staff -- Ozen, its Russia director and Vanin, a regional sales manager.
The other three Russians were customers, Chairman Bulent Eczacibasi told reporters. He said the group was in Turkey to attend a ceramics, bathroom and kitchen fair and was headed for Eczacibasi Holding’s facility in Bilecik.
An investigation into the crash is underway.