A group of eccentric Russians visiting the site believed to be the gateway to the lost kingdom of Shambhala were engulfed in flames when their helicopter struck a live wire and exploded as it was coming into land.
Shambhala comes from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and refers to a spiritual kingdom that was also the inspiration for Shangri-La, a paradise on Earth hidden in a remote valley.
The group had paid RUB 200,000 (GBP 1,710) for the trip to the region that included training in the translation of consciousness, but the helicopter trip to the mountain said to house the gateway to Shambhala ended in tragedy when the Mi-8 helicopter crashed in Tyungur, Ust-Koksinsky District in the Altai Republic in Russia on 27th July.
The statement by the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Emergency Situations for the region said that four people had been killed and 10 were injured.
Of the injured, five reportedly suffered serious burns over 90 per cent of their body.
The helicopter was operated by a private company, Altai-Avia, being piloted by Vyacheslav Demikhov, when it crashed. He was an experienced pilot who was praised for his work in fighting forest fires under tough conditions.
Videos from the crash site of the Mi-8 helicopter show the completely burned-out wreck of a helicopter and smoke rising into the sky.
There is a video of the moment the helicopter came down seconds before it struck a power line and exploded into flames.
The group of eccentric tourists apparently came to the region from different cities in Russia for a seminar called “Gate to Shambhala” that had been organised by a St Petersburg couple.
The pair, Eugene and Yana, founded the Shambhala school, gathering around them a large number of like-minded people who believe in the evolution of consciousness.
According to legend, the entrance to Shambhala is located on Mount Belukha, a three-peaked mountain massif located near where the crash happened, and many esotericists consider it a place of power and will join there to “recharge themselves with energy”.
Yana Kurgaeva, a 35-year-old workshop leader, who called herself “The Teacher” was one of those in the group who taught students the transformation of consciousness. She was one of those who died in a helicopter crash.
She often posted on social media about the immortality of her soul saying: “I remember how for the first time in this life I thought about death in early childhood. I asked one of the adults – ‘What is death? What will happen after death? The adults answered, ‘Nothing. You just won’t exist.
“I distinctly remember trying to imagine. How is it – I am … and suddenly I am not …? I tried and couldn’t do it. I couldn’t, because the words of adults turned out to be a mistake. Our Soul does not disappear anywhere, it is immortal.
“We live hundreds, thousands of lives, gaining experience, developing, getting to know the world and ourselves from different angles. The older I got, the less I was interested in the ordinary life of the people around me – I was bored. I constantly tried to do something strange for ordinary people.”
The cost of the seminar, where the hosts promised people to teach them how to work with places of power, introduce them to the spirit of the mountain, talk about the karmic core, and so on, cost RUB 20,000 (GBP 171) with all the other cost like hotels and travel was more than RUB 200,000.