26 Jun 2013

Rescue helicopter crashes in India

9:04 pm on 26 June 2013

Eight people have been killed in northern India when a rescue helicopter involved in flood relief efforts crashed near a pilgrimage site.

The Indian Air Force said five crew members and three civilians died on Tuesday when the Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter hit the side of a mountain and fell into a river.

It was on a rescue mission near Gaurikund in the state of Uttarakhand.

More than 800 people have died in the flooding so far. Swollen rivers have swept away entire villages.

The BBC reports officials fear the death toll could rise.

Heavy monsoon rain and landslides have devastated the area since 15 June and thousands of people are still stranded throughout the state.

At least 45 military helicopters are being used in the rescue effort, which has been hampered by bad weather.

The air force said the helicopters have been to the temple town of Badrinath to rescue an estimated 5000 pilgrims still there.

A BBC correspondent said lots of bodies are piled around the temple in Kedarnath and many of them have begun decomposing. Many of them remain unidentified and mass funerals have been delayed.