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9 Killed in Crash Of Rescue Copter

Associated Press
Sunday, April 3, 2005; Page A28

CANBERRA, Australia, April 3 -- An Australian navy helicopter crashed on the earthquake-devastated Indonesian island of Nias, killing nine people, the Defense Department said Sunday. Two others were rescued but were seriously injured.

The Sea King helicopter crashed Saturday afternoon near the town of Gunungsitoli, off the western coast of Sumatra, a Defense Department statement said.

The chopper was from an Australian navy transport ship that arrived Saturday after a three-month relief mission in Indonesia's tsunami-ravaged province of Aceh.

The two survivors were rescued by a second helicopter from the ship, HMAS Kanimbla, which has hospital facilities, the statement said.

"They are in a serious condition with leg fractures and other injuries," George McGuire, commander of the Kanimbla, told the Australian Associated Press.

McGuire said the helicopter was ferrying an emergency medical team to a remote village as part of relief efforts when it crashed.

He said the transport ship was headed toward the crash site on Nias, which was struck by a deadly earthquake on Monday.

Crew members on the ship cried and bowed their heads in shock in the ship's mess room when McGuire broke the news, the Australian Associated Press reported.


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