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18 die, five hurt in Indian helicopter crash

19 april 2011, 18:11
At least 18 people died and five others were badly burnt on Tuesday when a helicopter crashed in northeast India close to the border with China, a local police chief told AFP.

"The number of those killed are 18 and five people badly burnt have been taken to hospital in Tawang," said S.B. Singh, police inspector general of Arunachal Pradesh state, amending the earlier death toll of 20.

"There were 23 people including five crew members on board the helicopter," he added.

The Russian-designed civilian helicopter that crashed in the state's frontier Tawang region belonged to the state-run Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd., Singh told AFP by telephone from the state capital Itanagar.

"People said it exploded in a ball of fire while coming in to land in Tawang," Singh said.

"Sixteen bodies have already been taken out (from the wreckage), two more bodies are being taken out and five are in hospital and they are very seriously burnt," he said.

Two of the five injured survivors were crew members, he said.

There were two children on board the helicopter when it crashed. Their condition is unknown.

Pawan Hans Helicopters operates daily chopper services between Guwahati and Tawang and other remote locations in Arunachal Pradesh and the rest of the northeast.

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