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Togo awaiting report on Freetown helicopter crash
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08:16, July 31, 2007

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"We are going to abide by the report that will be compiled by Sierra Leone's government," Togolese health minister Charles Kondi Agba, who is also the chairman of the inter-ministerial committee on the Freetown crash, has said.

Speaking Sunday on national television on the status of investigations into the plane crash that left 14 Togolese nationals dead on June 3, the minister ruled out sabotage, saying "there's nothing to suggest that the accident was caused by an attack," adding that the accident was caused by a horde of unfortunate circumstances.

"The helicopter was not only very old but also poorly maintained," Agba said adding that it was important to establish how the company was allowed to operate such an obsolete aircraft.

"The helicopter that was transporting our departed friends was making the 13th return flight of the day," according to the Togolese health minister who explained that during that fateful journey, three out of the helicopter's five blades fell off forcing the plane itself to tumble down.

The helicopter, a Russian-made Mi-8 belonging to the Paramount Airlines, which transported passengers between Freetown and the Lungi International Airport, caught fire while preparing to land killing all but one of the 23 passengers on board.

Sierra Leone launched investigations into the accident, whose majority of victims were Togolese national football team traveling supporters including Togolese youth and sports minister Richard Attipoe, who had traveled to Sierra Leone to watch their team in action against Sierra Leone in a 2008 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) qualifying match.

The Russian co-pilot of the plane was the sole survivor of the crash.

Source: Xinhua

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