19 killed in Ukrainian helicopter crash

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The Independent Online

A helicopter belonging to Ukraine's state gas company crashed as it tried to land on a Black Sea drilling platform, killing 19 people, officials said today.

The Mi-8 helicopter went down around 0630 GMT about 40 miles offshore, said Valentyn Zemlyansky, a spokesman for the company, Naftogaz. The craft hit a support pole on the rig with its tail then fell onto the rig and caught fire, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

The passengers were mainly gas company employees who were heading for the rig.

One person survived the crash, Zemlyansky said.

The Mi-8 is a workhorse helicopter used widely in civilian aviation and the military in the former Soviet Union. Crashes occur frequently and are often blamed on poor maintenance and excessive age.

Last month, a Ukrainian border guards' helicopter also crashed into the Black Sea, killing 12 people.