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Bodies From Pakistani Helicopter Crash Recovered

  • RFE/RL

Pakistani soldiers load the coffin of the Norwegian ambassador into an army helicopter.

Pakistani soldiers load the coffin of the Norwegian ambassador into an army helicopter.

The bodies of seven people killed in a helicopter crash in Pakistan on May 8 have arrived at a military base near the capital.

The ambassadors from the Philippines and Norway and the wives of two other diplomats died in the crash in the country's north.

Pakistani officials and the country's army chief, General Raheel Sharif, were on hand as the seven coffins arrived at a military base outside Islamabad.

Twelve people injured in the crash also arrived at the military base.

Pakistan has declared May 9 a day of national mourning.

The helicopter with the dignitaries was on route to the northern village of Naltar, where Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was to inaugurate a newly installed chair-lift at a ski resort.

The Pakistani Talban claimed they shot down the helicopter, but officials said the crash was caused by a technical problem.

The government said 17 people were on board and among the injured were the ambassadors of Poland and the Netherlands.

Naltar lies in the Gilgit region, about 250 km north of Islamabad. It is not a militant stronghold and the Taliban often claim responsibility for incidents that they had nothing to do with.

Witnesses on the ground, and in other helicopters on the trip, reported nothing to indicate any firing.

The Mi-17 is considered a reliable, no-frills helicopter, first built by the Russians for use in hot and high conditions in Asia.

The Pakistani military is generally seen as maintaining its equipment well though media have reported four other Mi-17 crashes in Pakistan in the last 11 years.

A military team is investigating the crash.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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