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    Helicopter crashes in Afghanistan, killing at least 15

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    A civilian helicopter owned by a Russian company crashed on take off at a NATO air base in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing 15 people, the Russian Aviation Agency said.

    MOSCOW, July 19 (RIA Novosti) - A civilian helicopter owned by a Russian company crashed on take off at a NATO air base in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing 15 people, the Russian Aviation Agency said.

    "A Mi-8 helicopter owned by the Vertical-T air company crashed during takeoff from the Kandahar air field in Afghanistan. There were 17 passengers and three crew members on board. Fifteen passengers have died," the agency said.

    NATO put the number of fatalities at 16, and said five others were wounded. The alliance said the crash, which caused the helicopter to burst into flames, was not caused by militant fire.

    The Aviation Agency said the crew and the two surviving passengers are being treated in hospital. The nationalities of the victims have not been announced.

    The Russian embassy in Kabul confirmed the death toll quoted by the agency, and said no Russians were killed.

    "According to preliminary information, 15 people have died. There are no Russian citizens among them. There are Russians among those injured. They are currently in hospital," an embassy official told RIA Novosti.

    An investigation into the crash is being conducted by the air base administration and the Interstate Aviation Committee.

     

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