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Ten dead in Russian military helicopter crash

Written by: Staff

Yuzhny (Russia), Sep 12: Ten Russian servicemen died when a military helicopter crashed as it ferried a party of senior officers in the North Caucasus region, an Emergencies Ministry spokesman said today.

Anti-Moscow insurgents have shot down Russian helicopters in the North Caucasus in the past. But Russia's Vesti 24 television station said the aircraft crashed after losing its bearings in fog and clipping trees with its rotors.

A Reuters witness at the scene said he saw an unconscious man with serious head injuries, wearing a general's uniform, being carried on a stretcher out of the wooded area where the helicopter came down.

Local people in the village of Yuzhny said they had heard an explosion and then saw flames. The site, reached along dirt roads, was cordoned off by troops.

''Four people have been taken to hospital in Vladikavkaz. Three bodies can be identified, seven bodies have been badly burnt,'' said Vladimir Ivanov, spokesman for the Emergencies Ministry in the North Ossetia region.

He added it was too early to speculate about the cause of the crash.

Those on board included the deputy head of logistics for Russia's armed forces and several of his subordinates, Interfax news agency reported. They were taking part in a training exercise, it said.

The crash site is near Vladikavkaz, capital of North Ossetia. The region is close to Chechnya, focus for a long-running insurgency against Moscow's rule that has spilled over into other parts of the North Caucasus.


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