Chopper carrying China quake survivors crashes

A MILITARY helicopter carrying 19 people, many of them injured in China’s devastating earthquake, crashed in fog and turbulence, and authorities were searching for survivors yesterday.

The Russian-designed Mi-171 transport helicopter crashed in Wenchuan county in China’s southwest, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Xinhua last night said the aircraft was carrying five crew and 14 others, including people with quake injuries.

There was no immediate word on any survivors or casualties. Xinhua said a search-and-rescue operation was under way.

The confirmed death toll from the May 12 earthquake, China’s worst in three decades, is nearly 69,000, with another 18,000 still missing.

Two injured miners who had been stranded in Sichuan province’s mountains since the quake were airlifted out yesterday in a helicopter. They were found a day earlier by soldiers who parachuted into the area and treated them, Xinhua said.

Meanwhile, troops finished digging a channel to siphon off water from an earthquake-formed lake authorities feared could burst.

The lake formed above Beichuan town in Sichuan province when a hillside plunged into a river valley during the May 12 quake.


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