Six killed in British Army helicopter crash

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The Independent Online

A British military helicopter crashed today in the Czech Republic, killing six British soldiers, says the Czech Defence Ministry.

A British military helicopter crashed today in the Czech Republic, killing six British soldiers, says the Czech Defence Ministry.

The Lynx helicopter crashed around 1 p.m. (1100GMT) near Namest nad Oslavou, more than 100 miles south-east of Prague.

The soldiers were in the Czech Republic for a Czech-British military exercise dubbed Flying Rhino. The exercise was put on hold following the accident.

The helicopter crashed in an uninhabited valley, and rescue workers found six bodies on the scene, said Jan Sedlak, the head of the regional rescue service. Part of the helicopter had been burnt, while the other part was submerged in a creek, Sedlak added.

The Czech Defence Ministry could not say how many people were aboard the helicopter when it crashed, but Sedlak said no survivors were found at the crash site.

Peter Wickenden, a spokesman for the British Embassy in Prague, said that his office could "confirm that an accident has happened in the Czech republic involving the British helicopter." He said he could not confirm the number of people involved in the crash.

Czech emergency services and a British forces team were "on the ground dealing with the situation and establishing details right now," Wickenden said.

British forces were investigating why the helicopter crashed, he added.

In London, a British Ministry of Defense issued a statement saying that a Lynx helicopter had crashed.

"There are reports of U.K. casualties, but we can't confirm any British casualties at this time," the statement said.

The exercise, which began Monday and had been set to continue to Sept. 17, involved scenarios where pilots would search for ground targets and simulate attacks from the air. It was unclear what the Lynx was doing when it crashed.

Some 450 British soldiers were involved in the exercise, Czech Air Force spokeswoman Sabina Introvicova said.

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