Sunday, January 13, 2008

11 Dead in Macedonia Helicopter Crash

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — A Macedonian Army helicopter returning from a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia crashed Saturday in foggy conditions, killing all 11 people on board, the Defense Ministry said.

The MI-17 helicopter crashed around noon about 15 miles southeast of the capital, Skopje, minutes before it was to land. Villagers nearby heard two explosions.

The helicopter was returning from Bosnia, where Macedonia contributes 30 troops to a peacekeeping mission. It was the deadliest ever accident for the Macedonian air force.

"This is a terrible accident and a big tragedy. My condolences go to the families of the soldiers," Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said.

The government established a special body to investigate the cause of the accident.

The Chief of the Army, Gen. Miroslav Stojanovski, told the government the helicopter was serviced regularly and operated by professional pilots.

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