8 dead in India floods rescue chopper crash

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10:19 PM June 25th, 2013

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June 25th, 2013 10:19 PM

Indian pilgrims wait to be evacuated at Kedarnath, in northern Indian state of Uttrakhand, Thursday, June 20, 2013. Days after floods killed more than 100 people rescuers used helicopters and climbed through mountain paths to reach nearly 4,000 people trapped by landslides in a narrow valley near a Hindu shrine in the northern Himalayas, officials said Thursday. (AP Photo)

NEW DELHI — Eight people died on Tuesday in northern India when a rescue helicopter helping flood relief efforts crashed near a pilgrimage site, the air force announced.

“The eight persons on board including five crew members sustained fatal injuries” in the crash near Gaurikund in the state of Uttarakhand, said a statement sent to AFP.

The helicopter, a Russian-made Mi-17, was flying a rescue mission in the state where more than 1,000 people have been killed in flash floods and landslides.

The military is leading efforts to evacuate some 6,000 pilgrims and tourists still stranded throughout the state since the floods hit on June 15.

Raging rivers swept away houses, buildings and even entire villages in the state, which was packed with travellers in what is a peak tourist season.

More than 1,000 bridges have been damaged along with roads, cutting off villages and towns.

Gerard Galway, a spokesman for the air force in Uttarakhand, told AFP that the reasons for the crash were being investigated.

About 60 air force helicopters are being used in the rescue efforts.

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