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14 survive copter crash in Russia

Moscow - All 14 passengers survived a close brush with death on Monday when their helicopter crashed in the far east of Russia - a rare happy ending for a country prone to aviation disasters.

The Mi-8 helicopter, which included 11 forest firefighters among its passengers, crashed near the village of Chekunda in the Khabarovsk region, the Federal Forestry Agency said.

File image. Credit: [email protected]

“They got in touch and said they were alive,” a spokeswoman for the agency, Yulia Vasyutinskaya, told AFP. She did not provide further details.

Regional investigators had earlier reported that the helicopter had crashed and burned, and that a team of investigators was heading to the site.

Deadly aviation disasters are common in Russia, often blamed on ageing aircraft and poor maintenance.

Aviation experts say the Soviet-era Mi-8 has an especially poor safety record.

On June 1, a Mi-8 helicopter carrying 18 people crashed into a lake in northern Russia, killing all but two of the passengers.

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