.contact us |.about us
Home BizChina Newsphoto Cartoon LanguageTips Metrolife DragonKids SMS Edu
news... ...
             Focus on... ...

Nine feared dead in Georgia helicopter downing
( 2001-10-08 17:29 ) (7 )

Nine people, including five UN observers, were feared killed on Monday when their helicopter was shot down in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, Abkhazian officials said.

"We all saw (the helicopter) explode. Of course they are all dead," an official at the Abkhaz Defence Ministry told Reuters from Sukhumi, the regional capital.

The UN representative in Georgia, Dieter Boden, could not immediately confirm the incident.

But Alexandra George, political affairs officer for the UN observer mission in Georgia, said: "We believe there was an incident which involved a helicopter. We are still getting details from Sukhumi. That is all we can say at the present time."

The nationalities of the dead were not immediately known and officials from the UN observer mission (UNOMIG) to Georgia were holding an emergency meeting.

UN observers are deployed on the separation line between Georgia and Abkhazia, which declared independence from Tbilisi in 1991 and drove out Georgian government forces in 1993.

An Abkhaz Defence Ministry spokeswoman, who had just returned from the crash site, said the Mi-8 transport helicopter was shot down during a twice-weekly UN inspection flight to the Kodori gorge, where rebel groups were known to be operating.

She said the UN team had gone ahead with the flight despite being warned at the weekend of the dangers posed by rebels.

"UNOMIG were warned on Sunday by Abkhaz officials not to make their scheduled flight as it was a danger that their helicopter could be shot down, as a group of rebels are located in this area in the Kodori Gorge," said the spokeswoman.

Abkhaz servicemen near the crash site said they had "heard the sound of a rocket being fired" shortly before the helicopter exploded, she said. "It's just impossible that anyone survived."

The helicopter smashed into Sugar Head Mountain, but fear of rebel activity meant Abkhaz officials had not yet attempted to reach the wreckage.



        .contact us |.about us
  Copyright By chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved