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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 January 2008, 20:09 GMT
Macedonia crash kills 11 soldiers
A firefighter looks at the helicopter debris at the site of a crash near Skopje
The helicopter burst into flames after crashing near a village
A military helicopter from Macedonia taking soldiers home from peacekeeping duty in Bosnia-Hercegovina has crashed, killing all 11 people on board.

The aircraft went down south-east of the Macedonian capital, Skopje. The cause of the crash is unclear, but officials described it as an accident.

Skopje airport was closed for two hours after the incident.

The transport helicopter was returning soldiers from a tour of duty in the EU-led peacekeeping mission in Bosnia.

'Terrible accident'

The Mi-17 helicopter crashed around 1100 GMT as it prepared to land, officials said.

Map of FYR Macedonia

A police spokesman Ivo Kotevski said the aircraft came down and burst into flames near a village of Katlanovo, about 10km (six miles) south-east of Skopje.

Witnesses said they saw a fireball on impact.

Those killed in the crash included two helicopter crew members.

"This is a terrible accident, a great tragedy and a great loss," said Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski, after visiting the site of the crash.

An investigation is under way.

SEE ALSO
Country profile: Macedonia
30 Nov 07 |  Country profiles

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