Indonesia Helicopter Crash Kills 13


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A helicopter crashed and exploded on Saturday, in the jungles of Borneo Island in Indonesia, killing 13 people. Six more were injured, after the aircraft carrying construction workers ran into a cliff, while attempting to land at a work site near the Malaysian border. Rescue crews flew in today to retrieve the bodies.

Bad weather had hindered initial rescue attempts, though crews were able to mobilize later in the day. The crash occurred on a remote cliff side in the Malinau district in the North Kalimantan province, and rescuers, primarily military search and rescue agency personnel, brought mountaineering equipment to the wreckage.

While black box data has yet to be examined, officials suspect that poor weather conditions and a problem with the rear rotor blades caused the Russian-built Mi-17 chopper to go down. The craft appeared to spin out of control, directly before colliding with the rock wall, and an official investigation concerning the crash will commence as soon as the bodies are evacuated.

Military spokesman Legowo Jatmiko said in a statement, "It's bright and sunny now and rescuers said they did not face much of a problem. We believe we will be able to evacuate all the bodies today and airlift them to Tarakan," a town in northern Borneo.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed his "deep sorrow" at the deaths, and tweeted, "Hopefully the families of the soldiers and other victims will find fortitude in the face of this tragedy."

Borneo is the third largest island in the world, and the largest island of Asia. The island is divided among three countries - Brunei and Malaysia on the north, and Indonesia to the south, and many exotic species inhabit its verdant jungles, including the elusive Sumatran rhinoceros.

Of those killed in the crash, eight were civilian construction workers, and five were military personnel. Six survivors are being treated for burns in hospitals.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.