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|Friday, August 17, 2001, updated at 08:44(GMT+8)|
Russian Military Helicopter Crash in Chechnya Kills 2 PilotsRussian authorities said Thursday it was not clear what had caused a military helicopter to crash in breakaway Chechnya, which killed two pilots on Wednesday.
Latest Itar-tass report said the crash, taking place Wednesday near the mountain village of Tsa-Vedeno, might be caused by bad weather but gave no definite reason.
The agency quoted a senior military official as saying that a special commission has been working on the crash site.
The pilots attempted to eject on parachutes, but failed because the plane was flying at a low altitude, shorter than the minimum range for safe landing, said Kuznetsov, deputy commander of the federal troops in the North Caucasus.
Chechen separatists said earlier that they had shot down the Mi- 24 helicopter and its two crew members, and Russian news agencies quoted preliminary information from local officials as saying that grenade launchers on the ground had been fired at the craft.
But Interfax later quoted the office of Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the Kremlin's chief spokesman on Chechnya, as saying that the crash had not been the result of an attack but simply an accident.
It was the second helicopter crash in Chechnya this week. On Tuesday, a transport helicopter Mi-8 belonging to the federal border guard service crashed in the area of the settlement of Tuskharoi in Chechen highlands, killing two crewmembers and one serviceman, seriously wounding five border guards.
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