Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Saturday, 19 July 2008 16:26 UK

'Moonies' founder hurt in crash

Rev Sun Myung Moon
Rev Sun Myung Moon's helicopter reportedly hit bad weather

The founder of the controversial Unification Church, dubbed by critics as the "Moonies", has been hurt in a helicopter crash in South Korea.

The Reverend Sun Myung Moon, 88, was among several people on the aircraft when it made an emergency landing 40km (25 miles) east of Seoul.

News agencies quoted officials as saying Rev Moon's injuries were slight.

The casualties were taken to Cheongshim Hospital, which is affiliated to the Church, a hospital official said.

A police spokesman said that the helicopter had been carrying Mr Moon, his wife Han Hak-Ja, 11 relatives and three crew members when it ran into difficulties in heavy rain and came down on a hillside at Gapyeong, AFP news agency reported.

Burning helicopter
The helicopter burst into flames after the crash landing

A 38-year-old woman on board was seriously injured as the helicopter burst into flames on landing, AFP said.

Police and witnesses said the crash happened in a mountainous area near the hospital at about 1710 (0810 GMT), the agency said.

South Korea's CBS radio said Mr Moon and his wife were given MRI scans for possible back injuries and moved to a VIP room.

A spokesman for the South Korean transport ministry said that the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter had made the landing after encountering bad weather.

South Korea map

The Church, which is officially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, was founded in Seoul in 1954.

It has followers in about 200 countries, its officials say.

In April, Mr Moon's son, Hyung Jin Moon, 28, succeeded his father as the Church's most senior leader.

Unification Church members are widely known for their mass weddings involving thousands of couples.

The term "Moonies" was first used in the 1970s, but many church members regard the label as offensive.

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