US army helicopter crashes in Italy, five dead

By Xinhua

Rome : Five US soldiers have been killed in a helicopter crash in northeastern Italy, according to the Italian News Agency ANSA.

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The US army helicopter from Aviano military base, with 11 people aboard, was on a training mission which involved embarking and disembarking on the pebbly bank of the River Piave near the village of Santa Lucia di Piave.

According to Italian rescue services, the blades of the helicopter touched the ground during a tight turning manoeuvre, causing the aircraft to crash and burst into flames.

Four of the people aboard were killed instantly and a fifth died of his wounds in hospital. The other six people on board were all injured, two of them seriously, and were in hospitals.

Italian prosecutors in Treviso cordoned off the crash site, which is at least a kilometre from the nearest house, and have opened an inquiry to see whether anyone was responsible for the disaster.

US Air Force experts were also sent to the site to study the wreckage.

There are reportedly eight Blackhawk helicopters at Aviano, which is one of the biggest US military bases overseas.