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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 January 2006, 08:46 GMT
Earthquake aid helicopter missing
Mi-8 helicopter
A Red Cross helicopter helping with the earthquake relief effort in Pakistan has gone missing.

A spokesman for the ICRC, which chartered the helicopter, said radio contact was lost after it left the northwestern city of Peshawar.

The Russian-made Mi-8 aircraft was returning to Turkmenistan via Afghanistan with a crew of seven.

A search is now under way for the helicopter in a mountainous area on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

ICRC official James Reynolds said the cause of the disappearance was not clear, but that he was "deeply concerned" about its fate.

There was no indication that the helicopter had come under fire from Islamic militants on the border, Nato spokesman Maj Andy Elmes said.

A US air strike on a village in the area against militants alleged to be operating in the area killed 18 people and caused widespread anger in Pakistan.

The aircraft had been in Pakistan since the 8 October earthquake, which is thought to have killed more than 73,000 people and displaced millions of others.

Dozens of helicopters have been involved in the relief effort.

Six Pakistani soldiers died when their helicopter crashed on the way back from an aid mission in Pakistani-administered Kashmir on 16 October.




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